Columbia's winter homeless shelter now open

By Jillian Capobianco - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - For most of us, getting through these freezing temperatures is as easy as turning on the heater in our homes. But some people in the Midlands have to tough it out on the streets. Fortunately, Columbia's emergency winter homeless shelter is now open.

The shelter's hundreds of beds are empty by day, but at night each one of them will be filled as the winter months bring freezing temperatures.

"Cold, extremely cold, miserable," said David Saltzer who has been homeless for five years.

Saltzer works at the emergency homeless shelter from time to time for a little extra cash, but he also lays his head there at night during the winter months.

"This shelter is a godsend," he said. "You have a place to come in, you have a hot shower to take shower to take a shower to take where before you may be going weeks without taking a shower."

Evelyn Colter-Simes greets David and her other 240 guests from behind the counter every morning. "I say 'good morning' and they say 'good morning, Ms. Evelyn,'" said Colter-Sims.

She says it's important for people to remember that just because someone is homeless, that doesn't mean they're not human. "What more enjoyment can you give to someone that's down that you can make a difference in their life," said Colter-Sims. "If it's no more to be here than greeting them while giving them their coffee and snacks they have for the day and hopefully they have a good day and I hope to see them tomorrow."

From behind this counter---Evelyn may not look like a power house, but every morning she's a source of light and inspiration for the hundreds of people like David. "When you have been through a culture shock such as homelessness you have to reevaluate and reassess your priorities in life and find out what's important to you and that's literally where I am today," said David. "I understand that I control my own destiny, so if I want to do something I have to go out and do it."

The winter shelter is a partnership with cooperative ministry, the city of Columbia and the university of south Carolina, and is always in need of extra supplies.

They are looking for monetary donations, mattresses, board games, books, underwear, socks and towels. If you want to help the homeless shelter, call 799-3853 ext. 117.

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