Deep East Texas shelters prepare for extreme cold

Temperatures are expected to plummet over the next several days. For those who need shelter, it could be a life-threatening matter.

Deep East Texas shelters prepare for extreme cold

(KTRE) - Temperatures are expected to plummet over the next several days, and for those who need shelter, it could be a life-threatening matter.

“Any time there is a change in weather, for sure, we want to be a place for people to come and receive shelter,” Captain Jenifer Phillips with the Salvation Army of Lufkin said.

Philips said their day shelter off Shands Drive in Lufkin can serve about 30 people per day and offers various services during the cold snap.

“We can definitely provide blankets,” she said. “We have socks and things like that and vouchers to go to our thrift store for additional needs. We have meals available too: lunch and dinner. Of course, a place to come get a shower, hygiene kit available and for them to be able to do their laundry.

“The main focus of our ministry is to tell people about Jesus,” GODTEL Ministries CEO and President June Gentry said. “That’s why we’re not a government agency. We don’t accept government funds. They don’t have to join anything to stay here or agree with us. Just listen.”

GODTEL Ministries started in 1975 in Nacogdoches and now has two other overnight homeless shelters In Livingston and Lufkin.

The Gentrys say it is free to stay at the shelter, as long as people follow the house rules in place and are willing to find a job.

“We provide clothing if they need,” GODTEL Ministries Assistant Director Nancy Gentry said. “We wash their clothes on a regular schedule. We feed three meals a day. But around here they have to do chores. Wash dishes, mop, sweep, keep their rooms clean.”

There are more than 100 beds at Nacogdoches GODTEL Ministries facility, but the Gentrys say about half of that is being used right since the pandemic started.

But both facilities say they are ready for an influx of people during any season.

“Probably, we’ll get a few more,” Nancy Gentry said. “We do pass out blankets for those who don’t want to come in because of the rules.”

“We’ll definitely refer for overnights to GODTEL right now,” Phillips said. “We’re a day shelter so during the daytime, people can come here and get out of the elements and get resources as well.”

Both shelters say they are also adhering to CDC guidelines to protect against the coronavirus. They also rely heavily on donations to help those in need.

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