Cold weather shelters offer relief for hundreds of area homeless

By: Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - They seek shelter under bridges and in parks, but lately actually getting shelter from the cold has proved nearly impossible.

One destitute man who called himself "Cowboy" has been living on the streets for almost two years.

"The biggest thing is trying to stay warm when you've got no place to go," he said. "What do you do? You go stand in the park or try and find some place that's not going to kick you out because they know you're homeless."

Armed with layers of coats and a small backpack filled with everything he owns, he has no choice but to brave the bone chilling cold that's plagued our area for almost two weeks.

"Keep on the move. Keep walking," he said. "Try and find some place to duck out of the wind when the wind's real bad or a sunny spot to stand. That's all there is to do."

The sunny spot in Cowboy's day Sunday came when he heard the Conrad Center would be open all day.

It serves as the home Richmond's homeless don't have.

Program director Theo Woodson wishes he had a place to stop in and warm up during his seven years on the streets.

"I would have felt like I had died and went to heaven," he said.

He says with more people facing tough times and the cold temperatures that make you feel like you can never get warm, agencies like Freedom House need volunteers and donations.

"Blankets, coats, gloves, decent boots, warm shoes," Woodson said.

Like Woodson, for now Cowboy is looking forward to one thing.

"Summer," he said. "At least I'll be warm. Maybe there'll be more work."

The Conrad Center will reopen Monday morning at 5:00 a.m.

It will stay open until 7:00 that evening.

If you want to volunteer or have cold weather supplies to donate you can call Freedom House at 233-4064.

You can also visit their website here.

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