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Shelters open extra beds due to Christmas freeze

Surge in people seeking shelter at City Rescue Mission
Surge in people seeking shelter at City Rescue Mission

Due to low temperatures forecast expected to drop below 40º from Thursday and beyond, Jacksonville’s City Rescue Mission along with shelters in Flagler County and Gainesville will open extra beds for those without a warm place to spend the night.

The City Rescue Mission will increase its overnight capacity as well as extend its hours to those in need of shelter.

“We will not turn anyone away,” said Penny Kievet, CRM’s executive director. “We want to make sure that those without a home have a warm shelter and a hot meal.”

Daniela Daye, her fiancé and their three children got off a bus in Jacksonville with nowhere to go.

“I’m hoping for better. Definitely praying for better days,” she said.

Daye said they traveled from Denver with a few suitcases and the clothes on their backs hoping to start a new life in Tampa.

“The pandemic, we lost everything. I lost my job, I lost my house. So we’ve just been traveling, trying to get somewhere and be stable again,” Daye said.

Fortunately, the family found a spot at the City Rescue Mission.

Guests can check-in to City Rescue Mission’s New Life Inn at 234 W. State Street beginning at 2:30 p.m. each day. All guests will receive a hot meal and will be offered access to showers and clean clothing. All guests will be required to adhere to all COVID-19 safety precautions put in place as recommended by the CDC.

“It’s important because this actually can be a life saving measure,” said Jaime Williams with the City Rescue Mission. “They could potentially have medical issues or anything along those lines when the weather is like this, it could exasperate that condition, therefore leading to death, so we really want to save as many lives as we possibly can.”

Daye said this Christmas is different for her family, but she’s praying for new beginnings when they make it to Tampa.

Gainesville officials activated the city’s cold-night shelter program Thursday through Sunday. St. Francis House and GRACE Marketplace at the Empowerment Center will provide cold night shelter services to anyone need of shelter as long as overnight temperatures remain below 45º. Program providers serve additional persons in need of shelter so that families and individuals desiring shelter will have a warm place to stay.

St. Francis House provides temporary shelter that is appropriate for families, women and children. GRACE Marketplace primarily serves individual adults.

Flagler County’s Sheltering Tree will open Thursday night to the homeless and anyone who is without heat other than the oven and safe, vented space heaters.

“Space heaters need space – at least 3 feet – away from anything that can burn,” Flagler County Fire Marshal Jerry Smith said. “This space should also be a kid-free zone.”

Sheltering Tree will open its shelter at the Church on the Rock, 2200 N. State Street, at 5:30 p.m. Transportation is available at the following locations and times: Hidden Trails Community Center, 4 p.m.; Espanola Community Center, 4:30 p.m.; Hammock Church, 4 p.m.; Dollar Tree (by Carrabas), 4:25 p.m.; Palm Coast Main Branch Library, 4:40 p.m.; Flagler Beach Veteran’s Park, 4:10 p.m.; Flagler County Social Services, 4:35 p.m. and the free clinic, 4:55 p.m.

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