KANSAS CITY, Kan. — During cold nights like these, The Bridge of Hope Community Church turns into a cold-weather shelter.
“A safe place, safe haven for them until the morning,” Pastor Luther Eatman said.
This is the second year the church has served as a cold weather shelter, the only one of its kind in Wyandotte County.
"We're seeing more and more families with children, husbands and wives sleeping in vans," Eatman said. “It’s just a horrific thing we're looking at."
The shelter opens when temperatures are below 20 degrees. Volunteers and organizers of the shelter say they expect this week to be a busy week as temperatures will only be in the teens.
It provides a place to sleep, clean clothes and resources to help them get back on their feet.
"We want to follow through with them. We want to show them love. We want to show them their value," said Amber Holmes, cold weather shelter director. "We want to make sure we're doing everything we can to follow up during the daytime."
For Holmes, seeing the number of people come in for warmth, is personal.
“As I'm sitting there warming my car, I sit there and just think, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so cold,’” she said. “And then I remember where I was eight and a half years ago.”
For five years, she was homeless.
“I remember that thought of whenever I stayed in my truck thinking, 'Well, tonight's the night. I probably won't wake up in the morning. It's too cold,'” Holmes said. “And that thought goes through so many people's minds who I work with and who use this shelter.”
Now, she and the Bridge of Hope team are working together to provide more for their community during these cold winter months.
“Amber was homeless. I was homeless. We know the pain and anguish of people who are homeless,” Eatman said.
Since opening the shelter in 2016, nearly 30 people have moved into transitional housing.
“They're sharing where they were and where they are now and I have goosebumps right now because I know this is working in the community,” Holmes said. “This is changing people's lives.”
The shelter is open from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and is located at 1925 N. 11th St., Kansas City, Kansas 66104.
This shelter is run solely through donations and Holmes says they’re always in need of socks, toiletries, hats, clothes and clothing for children.
“Right now, during this season of giving where people begin to look at people in November and December and they want to do things,” Eatman said. “My goal is this: I hope that spirit goes with you all year round because they're homeless all year round.”
If you’re interested in volunteering, you can call 913–369-4673 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.