With the winter season approaching, shelters in the Lafayette area are preparing to help those in need.
Shelters in Lafayette and the surrounding areas prepare for more than just the winter season. The Extra Mile, an organization in Lafayette, strives to create lasting benefits to the community that goes much further than temporary help during the holiday season.
Photo by Princess Bolden
As the weather begins to change, shelters in Lafayette and surrounding areas continue their operations while also preparing for the winter season.
Many of the shelters in Lafayette have created multiple programs and outreaches that they have set in place in order to reach those on the streets and those who cannot provide for themselves. Despite the change of weather, shelters are sticking to their outreaches and connecting with those in the community.
Zona Lee-Pietrogallo, CEO of Acadiana Outreach and the Lighthouse Shelter said her 28-bed shelter constructs a street outreach which is done every day by the workers and volunteers, even during cold weather.
In order to better benefit the community, especially during the winter, the shelter continues their street outreach in search for those who do not have a warm place to stay, while also expanding their regular number of occupants.
“We have an emergency shelter when it is cold. We open the doors and let people come in, and if you can find a place to fit, whether it is in a bed or on the floor, then you can stay and hunker down,” Lee-Pietrogallo said.
With the winter season approaching, the shelters in Lafayette all seem to have the same end goal: to create a continuous effect that impacts the homeless community in many positive ways.
Stacey Miller, executive director of the Welcome House, said the ultimate goal is to bring a change and a change that lasts.
“I’m all about change, especially a change that will impact the world, the world of homelessness,” said Miller.
Linda Boudreaux, executive director of the Extra Mile which serves as another shelter and outreach program in Lafayette said her organization strives to create lasting benefits to the community that goes much further than temporary help during the winter.
“It isn’t just preparing for the freeze, it’s making sure people have homes,” Boudreaux said, adding, “The solution to homelessness is permanent supported housing.”
Phillip A, who asked that his last name not be used, is a volunteer and member of Les Bonamis, a branch of the Extra Mile. Phillip was homeless for eight-and-a-half years but has had housing for two years now because of the supported housing program that they offer.
Phillip said he believes that it is his duty to give back to the community of Lafayette because of what others in the area have done for him. He continues to volunteer and contribute to the community, even when he isn’t volunteering at the shelter.
“I don’t care if I’m here (volunteering at the shelter) or not, I’m here to help,” said Phillip.`
As the shelters prepare for new seasons by continuing and building their operations and systems, there are a few things that they ask of from those who have the ability to help them in this process.
Many directors and volunteers from the shelters ask that those in the community offer donations of different kinds, especially during this season, that they get more involved by going to the shelters and offering their help, and that citizens be less judgemental to the homeless community.
Miller said volunteering at shelters helps show what it really means to love someone who cannot love you back.