SPRINGFIELD — NAMI, a local group that supports the homeless, shared a story with KOLR10 about a man who came in desperate for help.
Cold temperatures are a common concern this time of year for those without shelter, but the issue can run much deeper than just a place to sleep.
A local support group for the homeless says they had a person come through their doors with a situation that required medical attention before things got worse.
One of several places around town that tries to give the homeless a fighting chance is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
They focus on a peer-oriented approach to have those with mental illnesses work to become successful by offering a support system for them, and help them function and thrive within their walls as employees.
But Executive Director Stephanie Appleby says a big part of their services are also geared towards those without shelter.
“We go home at night, and I worry if I’m going to come to work and this person — did they survive last night?”
She says this time of year the homeless community relies on them often, especially with the temperatures the way they are.
“With our unsheltered friends, something that I’ve noticed a lot is that when it gets cold it almost effects everything in their life. They don’t know how to cope with it. Maybe sometimes the warming shelter isn’t open, it’s not quite cold enough,” says Appleby
Appleby feels that a misconception about the homeless population is that it’s easy for them ask for help but that isn’t always the case. This week a man came in reluctantly as a last resort, with his hands out in desperation.
“When someone comes to me in tears saying, ‘I need your help’ I know it’s a pretty big deal. This individual had waited so long and came to me, and had such horrible frost bite that he wasn’t able to use his hands,” Appleby explains.
Appleby dropped what she was doing and took the man to a pharmacy to help him get his hands on the mend, and enrolled him in a for 30 days shelter while he heals.
But on Wednesday, people like Bill Richmond, 65, and others are preparing for a cold weekend ahead.
Richmond says he is bracing for another challenge like last weekend, and he told a story about the freezing rain that he had to sleep in last week. Somehow, his recollection was a positive one.
“I woke up somebody had put a blanket over me, and put a coat — my coat was like drenched, and they left the coat. I have no idea who it was but there’s a lot of good people out there,” Richmond says.
If you have an old pair of gloves, a jacket, or a hat you don’t wear – consider donating it to NAMI or another homeless shelter.
NAMI’s offices are located on the 4th floor of the Cox Medical Tower in North Springfield.