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Excessive Heat Means Birmingham’s Firehouse Shelter Needs More Donations For Homeless

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By Gillian Brooks

www.WBRC.com

Firehouse Shelter has received a tremendous amount of donations after asking for the community’s help. On July 19, the shelter had to send people away for overnight stays because they were well over capacity.

The shelter received 30 cots and over 100 pounds of laundry detergent. Because of the donations, upwards of 130 people will be able to stay at the shelter on July 22.

Anne Rygiel, who is the Executive Director of Firehouse Ministries, said seeing the support from the community is more than material goods, it’s showing that people care.

“Clean clothes is dignity. Getting food without begging for it, that’s dignity. It’s more than just stuff, it’s a lifestyle change, and it’s just good feelings all the way around.”

The excessive heat has local shelters over capacity. On July 18, the Firehouse Shelter was not able to take in any more people looking for a place to sleep.

Rygiel said the capacity of the overnight shelter is 90 people. But they have been hosting upwards of 120 people some nights.

“So that means people are sleeping on cots, in our chapel, in our lunchroom and so when we reach our limit we really want to make sure people aren’t just being dropped off by family or hospitals or other agencies. So we can make sure everyone has a safe place to sleep.”

Rygiel said the shelter had asked for the community’s help so they can assist more people. Items such as cots mean more places for someone to sleep.

“When we hit that capacity, there is nowhere else for people to go which is why we take our capacity limits very seriously and we try to take in just one more person. Just one more person! Which is how we ended up 30 people over in the first place,” said Rygiel.

The shelter houses 5,000 individuals per year. Client Azeley Woods sought help in October. In August, he’ll be moving into his own apartment. He said with assistance from the community, it’s helping people like him get by.

“The start is here. So we need help starting. We need help with food. We need help with clothing,” said Azeley.

A link to the shelter’s wishlist can be found here.

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