For nearly two months, North Point Baptist Church in Carrollton has used one of its facilities as an emergency homeless shelter for the nights where the city experienced severe weather.
The shelter has been run out of North Point’s old fellowship hall on Maple Street (right next to American Pie Pizzeria). It serves primarily as an emergency shelter for the nights when Carrollton has extreme weather, which has happened several times this year.
“We all hear about the homeless but we don’t realize the depth of the problem and there is a big problem in Carroll County,” said Gerald Johnson, member of North Point.
When the city was expecting the first extreme weather of the year back in January, there was a group of North Point’s members who wanted to use the old fellowship hall as a homeless shelter during the bitter cold weather.
“People were bringing food and blankets and it turned into a shelter overnight,” said Johnson.
Donations of food, blankets, jackets and coats were given to those running the shelter.
North Point provided the facility and a good bit of people to serve in the shelter but it has by no means been a single church effort. In fact, many churches in Carroll County and the city of Carrollton have also joined in the effort to provide shelter in weather emergencies.
“There is a good core of 20 churches that want to be involved and now we just have to get that group together and organized and decide what direction we want to go in,” said Johnson.
The obvious desire is for the shelter to be in operation at all times, but that is a goal that still might be a ways off. Currently the shelter is in operation in the extreme situations until there can be more stable and steady support from the community.
“This last week when it became so apparent that we were in danger of a severe ice storm, the city of Carrollton brought a huge generator and had it set up in case the power went out, which it did,” said Johnson. “So that facility had electricity and heat while the rest of Maple Street didn’t have power for several hours.”
The shelter was short on supplies when it first opened back in January, but somehow University Police at the University of West Georgia received word of the shelter and brought cots for the shelter to use.
“They brought a trailer loaded down with cots that they have for emergency situations and let us use them that first week,” said Johnson. “Now after that we didn’t have access to those and when word got out that we needed cots they just started coming from everywhere.”
Only five people stayed at the shelter on the first night, but word has traveled quickly in the community and there were 35 people who stayed at the shelter on the last night that it was open.
A conference was held at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Carrollton where Johnson did a presentation on the shelter and described some of the needs for its operation. Within an hour of the conference, Wal-Mart in Carrollton was completely sold out of cots.
Delta Airlines received word of the shelter and donated several hundred blankets for the shelter’s use.
“I’ve been on mission trips and church building projects where several churches were working together but it wasn’t like this, I don’t know how to explain it but it just wasn’t like this,” said Johnson. “I guess this was just more of a God thing, you could just feel God’s hand in the whole thing.”
As of now the shelter will remain open in emergency weather situations.