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Center offers relief from heat



Published: Wed, July 11, 2007 @ 12:00 a.m.

About 20 homeless people a day are turning to the Greater Youngstown Point.

By WILL HANLON

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN — Spare some change? How about spare the heat.

While many are retreating to their air-conditioned homes or work places when the thermometer hits 90, homeless people must find other ways to escape high temperatures.

With the threat of dehydration and sunstroke, being outside too long during the day during these hot summer months can be dangerous for anyone.

The Greater Youngstown Point drop-in center, located on the corner of Wick Avenue and Lincoln Avenue, is open during the day for the homeless. While it is not air-conditioned, it does provide some relief: It’s in the basement of New Beginnings Church, 322 Wick.

Michael James, the program’s executive director, said it’s relatively cool in the basement compared with the outside temperature.

Although closed at night, James said the GYP is the only place in the greater Youngstown area that offers a place for the homeless to stay during the day. People participating in programs of the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley are permitted to stay at the GYP.

Day and night shelter

“We average about 20 people a day,” James said. “We close at about 4:30 p.m., so everyone starts to leave around 4 p.m.”

The Rev. David Sherrard, executive director of the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley, said the mission also is not air-conditioned, mainly because it’s in an old building on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The Rescue Mission is not open for the homeless to stay during the day — only for the night, he said.

Some of the area’s homeless live near the Mahoning River or under bridges and highway overpasses. While seeking shade is one of the ways to escape the heat, the Rev. Mr. Sherrard said that a good place for the homeless to go when the weather becomes unbearable is a public, air-conditioned place.

At the Greater Youngstown Point, those who come in are also offered food and a shower. The shower helps them to not only cool off, but also with hygiene, James said.

James said he had just brought in 13 cases of bottled water. “We do what we can to keep them hydrated. That’s one of the most important things,” he said.


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