Lubbock organizations reach out to homeless during heat waves

Lubbock homeless struggle as temperatures climb
Grace Campus (Source: Caleb Holder)
Grace Campus (Source: Caleb Holder)
Source: Caleb Holder
Source: Caleb Holder
Gonzales (Source: Caleb Holder)
Gonzales (Source: Caleb Holder)
Salvation Army canteen (Source: Caleb Holder)
Salvation Army canteen (Source: Caleb Holder)

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - For three weeks and counting, Pedro Gonzales seeks out shade and any temporary escape from the summer sun at Paul's Project - Grace Campus.

"It has been very excruciating hot," Gonzales said. "It has been very bad."

As one of 94 residents at Grace Campus, a tent serves as his temporary home.

"I try to keep out of them," Gonzales said.

That is because when it gets over 100 degrees, Gonzales said the inside of the tent is almost unbearable.

"It's maybe 120, 130 degrees," he said.

Gonzales' only other option is to sit by the fans in the campus barn.

"They help some, but not much," he said. "The older people that are here, I'm just afraid that one of these days they're going to get a heat stroke or something."

He shares that concern with Christopher Moore, the executive director of Grace Campus.

"We want it to be a placem, not where people stay permanently, but where they're going to be comfortable while they're transitioning back into work," he said, "or whatever took them out of mainstream society."

Moore has found that the most effective method to keep residents comfortable is through donations.

"We're always going to need water," he said. "And it's really cool…we've had people bring popsicles out and ice cream and that's very helpful."

By next summer, Moore hopes to have the campus tents replaced with small homes that will actually have air conditioning inside.

"Solar powered electricity," Moore said, "and you can plug fans and cooling units into that."

In the meantime, another cool-down option in Lubbock is at Carpenter's Church at 1916 13th Street, Lubbock. It is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. each weekday with access to indoor air conditioning, water fountains, showers and even ice trays.

But when those doors close, many homeless individuals turn to the Salvation Army.

"They can actually come and stay for the evening," said Salvation Army community relations director Kaitlyn Frederick, "and we started noticing more people stay as of recently."

The high heat has caused their emergency shelter to become almost completely full, with an average of 60 people served a night.

"It's hard to see people in any capacity living on the streets," Frederick said.

The Salvation Army even took their emergency disaster services canteen out last week to distribute water.

"Occasionally we can give things out like damp rags," she said, "and anything to keep people cool."

The Salvation Army will continue to host meetings to help homeless people avoid the dangers of heat exhaustion.

"That's all we can ask for…for the blessings," Gonzales said. "Keep shooting those blessings over here."

TO HELP:

The Salvation Army will host a disaster response volunteer training this weekend, if anyone would like to serve in the canteen.
It will be July 15 and 16 from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Salvation Army location at 1111 16th Street. For more information, call 682-300-2404.

The Salvation Army also needs donations (hygiene products in particular) dropped off at their emergency shelter from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

To donate water, cooling units, meals or other services to Grace Campus, visit http://www.paulsprojectlubbock.org/ for more information or visit their campus at 1301 Avenue A.

To support Carpenter's Church, visit http://www.carpenterslubbock.org/give.html.

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