Surviving homelessness in West Virginia as the temperature drops

Local News

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — “A lot of people they drive by, they look at you, stare at you, and just the way they look at you, you can tell they’re just disgusted,” said Mark Farmer, a homeless man.

Mark Farmer says this is the first year he’s been living on the streets. Today, he was at Charleston’s Roark Sullivan Lifeway Center washing his clothes grabbing a bite to eat.

“Don’t just look at them and then drive by. Stop, give them a blanket. Give them a coat. Some people don’t even have that,” said Farmer.

Jessica McGuire who runs the center says she’s seeing all walks of life needing help right now, even whole families.

“Over 7,000 give or take between the expanded Kanawha Valley region. There are over 100 unsheltered persons. We personally only have 394 that we work with on a regular basis,” said McGuire.

This time of year adds even more challenges to the hardships homeless folks face every single day.

“One of our biggest concerns is their safety. Hypothermia, it’s not uncommon. Many don’t have good judgment when they’re on drugs or on alcohol. It takes some convincing, it takes our outreach team to go out and go to them and not wait for them to come to us,” said Bruce Purnell, Program Coordinator at Roark Sullivan Lifeway Center.

McGuire says the shelter is working to set up warming stations from the West Side all the way to Kanawha City and expand capacity if necessary. The shelter provides all basic necessities, but are always seeking volunteers and donations. Particularly winter clothing and accessories this time of year.

“Most of the guys out there and women don’t have families. The only places they can live are in the shelter or on the street. It’s a lot going on out there, people don’t want to know,” said Farmer.

If you would like to donate or volunteer at Roark Sullivan Lifeway Center, you can visit their location at 505 Leon Sullivan Way.

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