HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - As temperatures continue to plummet, our homeless community in Huntsville is able to find safe haven from the punishing temperatures. The Grateful Life Community Church is a unique place of worship opening their doors to the homeless on nights where the temperatures dip below freezing.
The congregation is made of many homeless and formerly homeless parishioners. Just three years ago, they decided to take in any homeless person in need of warmth on frigid evenings.
"Either these people, they won't go to the shelter or they have been permanently banned from other shelters," explained North Alabama Homeless Coalition Executive Director, Lineise Arnold.
Cots line the entire floor space at the Grateful Life warming center. Each cot is a haven of rest for someone in need. This shelter is unlike others in that people can bring their hunger, burdens, and tired feet along with their pets.
While people stay safe from frigid temperatures, they receive three meals a day, snacks and additional needed care.
"Sometimes we have the Huntsville Hospital mobile clinic come in,” said Arnold. “They do medical assessments as well as we have organizations come in and offer resources."
Church volunteers stay with the shelter 24-hours a day when the temps go below 35 degrees. And while no one is turned away from refuge, it's also not the right fit for everyone. The shelter is located at 207 Oakwood Avenue NW, Huntsville, AL 35811.
"If we have a family, husband and wife with kids, this is not the most appropriate place to be,” explained Arnold. “So in those conditions we try to encourage them to go to the Downtown Rescue Mission."
At the Downtown Rescue Mission women and children stay in a separate area from men. However, some prefer to stay together. Families will forgo shelter on freezing nights in order to stay with one another. In those cases, the shelter tries to give hotel vouchers to families in need.
Monday night 40 people used the Grateful Life warming center and Tuesday night there were more than 55 people staying there.
"Unfortunately we are at the situation where we have more bodies than we have cots currently. So we are seeking support from the community to purchase new cots," said Arnold.
The North Alabama Homeless Coalition sees a growing need for additional cots and donations to support the selfless work being done at the shelter; feeding the hungry and giving strength to the weak.
"We do know that most of these individuals would be outside in the cold and we don't want that to happen," added Arnold.
The warming shelter will be open to those in need through Thursday morning. The shelter opens up for 24 hours any time the temperatures dip below freezing at night. If you would like to aide in the effort to support the center click here for donation information.