Cooling centers harbor homeless from heat

Center for Hope is the only shelter in the Jefferson City area for men, women and parents with children.

Thermometers all across Mid-Missouri were close to the 100 degree mark this afternoon.

That had area health officials concerned about people without air-conditioning and those working outside under the hot sun.

Karen Bonnot has lived at the Jefferson City Salvation Armyâ??s Center for Hope shelter for the past month. She works in the kitchen to earn her keep. Bonnot is thankful to serve the homeless who spend their days under the hot sun.

Bonnot said, â??Oh my! How hot can they be? Itâ??s really pretty hot. Itâ??s good to see them and their children. They can bring their children in to keep them cool.â??

Shelter administrators expect to be at full capacity by the end of the week as the thermometer continues to climb. Ronald Carter lives and cooks at the shelter.

Carter said, â??Iâ??m glad that we can be here and go ahead and feed them and give them some food to help them stand the heat. We give them a place to stay when itâ??s too warm. The community really needs to be glad that we have this place.â??

Center for Hope is the only shelter in the Jefferson City area for men, women and parents with children. It is the only agency that serves 3 meals a day to people in need. Bottled water is a luxury. The shelterâ??s pantry is nearly empty. They have no bottled water and very few cold drinks.

Shelter Director Brenda Stanek said, â??Donations would be wonderful such as bottled water, any type of nice cool drinks and any food donations would be greatly, greatly appreciated.â??

Some of the homeless have medical conditions where hot and humid temperatures cause them to pass out. The shelter has a policy to set up extra cots in their dining hall when temperatures are above 90 degrees after 8 p.m. People sleeping in those cots get to spend one night. They can always take advantage of the air-conditioning during the day.

You can check with your local health department to find the closest Cooling Center near you.