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Community comes together to provide shelter, food for the homeless

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By Alice Du Pont

After temperatures dipped into the low 20s and the wind chill made it feel like the teens, concerns about the homeless tugged at the heart strings of many people. For Lt. Jim Corder of the Gadsden County Sheriff's Office, the tugging turned into action.

Corder said after he read in a regional newspaper that the Tallahassee shelter was at capacity and people were going to be turned away, he called Sheriff Morris Young and suggested using part of the sheriff's office on the ground floor as a temporary shelter.

"He was out of town but he liked my idea, told me he supported me and agreed that we needed to do something. Then he said 'make it happen,’ ” Corder said.

By 5 p.m. Corder had lined up supplies from the Red Cross and recruited family members and volunteers to help get the temporary shelter ready for the first 30 people to arrive. By 7 p.m. the shelter in Tallahassee had 15 more people who needed beds. There were several people sleeping under overpasses on Interstate 10 that Corder picked up and brought back.

"The bus came and they asked us who wanted to go to Quincy. I had never been to Quincy but I am glad I came. They really know how to treat people. The food has been good and the people at the shelter have been extremely nice," said Patrick.

The 43-year-old Atlanta native said he has been homeless for a year. Patrick said he lost his job and moved to Tallahassee to find work. He works as a day laborer when he can get work but has never made enough money to get a permanent place to live.

"I've been in a lot of shelters. This is the best I've ever been in. It was God's will for me to get on that bus and come here," Patrick said.

Those who came to Quincy entertained themselves by playing dominos, cards, board games and watching television. Local churches volunteered to provide food while individuals donated towels, blankets, clothing, gloves and toiletries.

"I thought about us in law enforcement. We're always talking about protecting and serving. Well, this is another way to do that. These people  needed us to get them out of the cold and into a safe, clean environment," Corder said.

He said he was most proud of the way the churches and individuals helped make the lives of the homeless a little better for the few days they spent in Quincy.

"I know there are good people here. I really saw how this community is capable of coming together to help others who are less fortunate this week. From the people who took food out of their pantries to the ones who volunteered to serve these people, I saw a lot of open hearts," Corder said.    

Gadsden County Health Department employees were on hand to give H1N1 immunizations to anyone who wanted one and WORKFORCE plus was cataloging information to help locate jobs.

From Saturday through Wednesday the shelter housed and fed 44 men, three women and two children.

"It's really just the beginning of winter and we don't know what the rest of the winter will bring. But if we have to repeat this as a temporary shelter, we will," Young said.

Send your comments to adupont@gadcotimes.com.