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'Gimme Shelter

The Salvation Army Lodge in Parkersburg is near capacity at this time of the year for the first time since Maj. Walter Strong became commander.

Strong says it's usually at capacity in the heat of summer. It might be at capacity, but in a couple of rooms the heaters need to be replaced.

“One room we are using because the heat from the hallway is enough to keep the room comfortable," he says. "The other one on the women's side houses women and children as well, so that one is shut down."

The number of people seeking shelter isn't necessarily an indication of the number of homeless people in the Mid-Ohio Valley. The Salvation Army tells us that for one reason or another, there are people who don't seek shelter at all.

"There is a portion of the homeless who choose to stay out when it’s cold," Maj. Strong says. “When they want to come in, they come in, that's a small percentage."

There are also lots of inquiries about the shelter at Cornerstone Ministries just north of Marietta. Its director, Pastor Vonda Lee, says there are people who won't come into the shelter, but they have their reasons.

“Recently we had veteran who let us help him with food and some laundry, but he wouldn't come into the shelter."

Pastor Lee says there is a surge in people seeking shelter but that a lot of them are what are called "hidden homeless.”

"We have two or three families in a one-family dwelling," she says. "When you have the confinements of the weather, the pressure of the holidays and money, when a conflict arises somebody is going to be on the street."

Cornerstone asks that people needing shelter call them before coming to the shelter in Reno. Their number is 740-373-5381.


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