Oklahoma City’s shelters prepare space for homeless

BY SONYA COLBERG and VALLERY BROWN Modified: January 28, 2010 at 9:23 am •  Published: January 28, 2010

The recluses and homeless people afraid to go downtown are a worry to Jesse Mercer.

The face of one man stuck with Mercer, the assistant director of Jesus House, as he hurried around the rescue mission Wednesday in preparation for the coming storm. As Mercer stood in line at a Taco Bell, the man approached and asked if Mercer would help him.

Mercer gave him one of his Jesus House cards.

"If you come to Jesus House, we can help. It’s going to be too cold up under the bridge the next couple of days,” Mercer told the man.

But the man said not to expect him at the shelter. He doesn’t go downtown, he explained.

"I can’t make them,” Mercer said.

"You can only help those that want to be helped.”

He said there are plenty of others like the stranger but many of the homeless with mental illnesses will find their way to the shelter as the storm moves in.

Jesus House, City Rescue Mission and Grace Rescue Mission are all steeled for waves of homeless people looking for warmth. They say they are committed to seeing that everyone who needs shelter or a meal will get it.

"We don’t open the door and throw somebody out in the snow,” Mercer said. "My grandmother wouldn’t have liked it, my mother wouldn’t, and I don’t think the man upstairs would think too much of it.”

Jesus House
Mercer said he’s prepared for a storm like the Christmas Eve blizzard, when Jesus House ran out of mattresses and space for everyone to lie down.

They gave blankets to the later arrivals and told them to go to the kitchen and lay their heads on the table.

"That’s the best I could offer,” he said. "We had 265 people that night.”

City Rescue Mission
City Rescue Mission, which shelters 400 to 500 men, women and children each night, has 640 beds and another 250 mats to put down in a time of great need.

"Our people usually wait until there is a crisis and then seek our services,” said Tom Jones, president and chief executive officer. Ongoing Coverage: Watchdog Know it: Winter Survival


Related Audio

Shelters

• City Rescue Mission, 800 W California Ave. To find out more, go to www.cityrescue.org or call 232-2709.


• Jesus House, 1335 W Sheridan Ave. For more information, go to www.jesushouseokc.org or call 232-7164.


• Salvation Army, 311 SW 5, www.salvationarmyokcac.org or call 246-1100.


• Grace Rescue Mission, 2205 Exchange Ave. For more information, call 232-5756.

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