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Homeless find ways to cool off

August 01, 2010|By JULIE E. GREENE

HAGERSTOWN --While many people have been able to seek relief in their air-conditioned homes, local homeless people found breaks from the heat by stopping at various shelters and public places.

Jodie Stock, executive director of REACH, said traffic was up during July at the air-conditioned Day Resource Center at 140 W. Franklin St. REACH is an acronym for Religious Effort to Assist and Care for the Homeless.

Compared to July 2009, shelter traffic was up by about 10 people a day, with 40 to 50 homeless people a day stopping by, she said.

At the shelter, homeless people can get something to drink, a light snack to eat, take a shower and get their laundry washed, Stock said.

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The center is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday, Stock said.

After the center closes, some homeless people go to Soul Haven, the Hagerstown Rescue Mission or to public places like Washington County Free Library, said officials who work with the homeless.

Soul Haven is a nonprofit wellness and recovery center on West Franklin Street for people with mental-health issues, Director Kirk Stroup said.

Homeless people who have a mental-health issue and a form of medical insurance can hang out at Soul Haven, which is air-conditioned, Stroup said.

In addition to having a variety of beverages available, the center has computer games, puzzles, magazines, TV and playing cards, Stroup said.

Stroup said traffic at Soul Haven increased slightly in July.

Four States Christian Mission, also known as the Hagerstown Rescue Mission, has had more men staying during the afternoon, when the mission has a soup line and the Day Resource Center is closed, said Sonny Shank, executive director.

Some of the men stay, but many of them went back out in the heat, he said.

Men who participate in the mission's long-term life recovery program stay overnight, but the mission also aids the homeless or transient population, Shank said.

Normally, rescue mission officials allow transients to stay overnight for 30 days and then they need to find other housing, Shank said.

But when temperatures reach 95 or higher, mission officials have relaxed the rules to allow transients to come into the cool shelter in the afternoons, Shank said.

If there are beds available and they haven't been restricted from the mission, they can stay overnight, Shank said.

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