LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - There's a warming station in Conway for homeless people looking for a place to stay this winter.
It's a collaboration between the city and hundreds of volunteers from eight to nine different churches in the area. Over the next two months they will each take turns, one week at a time.
“Homelessness doesn't necessarily fit in a box, we knew that going in, but this has really proved that for us,” said Conway Ministry Center Executive Director, Spring Hunter.
She and others are helping to provide more than just a hot meal and warm bed for those in need, such as an opportunity to debunk negative stereotypes.
“Every one of these people have a story,” Joey Cook said, Pastor of City Church. His ministry took care of the second week of operation.
Conway's Winter Warming Station hasn't been open for that long but is already making a difference.
“We had someone found at Kroger, sleeping on a bench, and the local police brought him over to the warming station so he could have a hot meal and a place to stay",” Cook added.
Until Feb. 28, the station will open nightly and provide overnight shelter when temps drop below 40 degrees.
"I've had volunteers call me after their experience weeping and saying how thankful they are for their opportunity. It's given them a new perspective on life,” said Cook.
Volunteers take turns with weekly feedings and oversight; dinner is provided at 7 p.m.
Cook wants everyone to know they’re doing more than just staying up all night with homeless residents, they get to know them.
Hunter thinks homelessness can be broken into two groups.
“We've only been open for 14 nights but in those nights we've had about 35 homeless residents come through. We've got a core group of about 12 or 14 that stays with us consistently,” she said.
The station also has a group of people who come, stay a few nights, use the internet and develop a plan.
But for many, getting back on their feet isn’t as simple as just getting a job.
“A lot of people that have lived on the street have lost their vital documents or have never had them," said Hunter. "Another issue is that we don't have public transportation in Conway, so that can be an issue. There are a lot of different factors."
The warming station has a total of 40 beds.
Volunteers and the people who stay all have to pass background checks.
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