Helping the homeless: shelters accommodate to hold more people

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014 - 8:32pm

A lot of you are probably staying warm and cozy inside your homes tonight, but what if you had no home to go to? Homeless shelters across the area are at capacity, but St. Vincent de Paul is not turning anyone away.

Imagine getting out of the hospital and not having a home to go to. For Jimmy Johnston, that's the reality, but thanks to some help, he made it here.

"Baton Rouge General Medical are good people. They paid for the cab service. Fifty bucks to get me to this shelter," Jimmy said.

They took him to St. Vincent de Paul.

"It kept me out of the cold. I'm 62, and he kept me out of the cold and kept me warm," Jimmy said.

For Jimmy, it means the world.

"I'm thankful for this place. This place right here has helped so many people that it's unreal how much it does for them," Jimmy said with tears in his eyes.

He even met an old friend during his stay. Meet Stephen Woodworth. He's been at St. Vincent de Paul for six weeks now.

"The showers and the warmth is awesome because it's cold out there. If you need a place to stay and you want to change and make goals for your life, this is a place to do it," Stephen said.

"In 30 minutes, I was guaranteed a room," Jimmy said.

Jimmy said when he got here last night, hundreds of people were lined up outside, and because of that demand, folks here at St. Vincent de Paul say they're trying to do what they can to accommodate everyone.

"It was more than I expected," Denise Terrance, the dining room director, said. "I think our numbers were 370 something, and I expected it to be lower because of the weather conditions."

So everyone is chipping in.

"Our volunteers may not be able to get here, but we have men in the shelter that have stayed in, and then we have the women who are upstairs," Denise continued. "So if we have to have volunteers, we'll pull them, and we'll get them fed."

"I worked for two and a half hours this morning making bags for sandwiches," Jimmy said.

Jimmy said that's the least he can do.

"If it wouldn't have been for God and this place, who knows where I would have been last night because there was a lot of people out in the cold last night," Jimmy said.

St. Vincent de Paul has more than 60 beds, and that's just for the men. So in order to accommodate more people, they pulled out some extra cots.

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