Daybreak bridging gap for Macon homeless in snowy cold

lfabian@macon.comJanuary 29, 2014 

David Brown slipped his way up New Street and headed for some food Wednesday morning at Macon Outreach at Mulberry.

He reached the parking lot before being told that the downtown kitchen was closed due to the snow.

“It’s slippery,” Brown said before turning around. “I thought I was fixin’ to fall one time.”

After learning that the Daybreak Homeless Center was open, he decided to get his laundry and see if he could find a snack at the Walnut Street facility.

Daybreak opened with a handful of staff and volunteers at 7 a.m. Wednesday.

Macon-Bibb Emergency Management Director Don Druitt said his agency was working with the Salvation Army and Daybreak to make sure people were off the streets in the ice and snow.

Those who could not find a bed at the Salvation Army were put in temporary warming centers overnight, then sent to Daybreak in the morning.

About nine people were bused to the day center, and two others were sent after being discharged from the emergency room, said Sister Elizabeth Greim, Daybreak’s executive director.

“We’ve opened really for anyone who needs to come down. A lot of our regulars are here,” Greim said. “We’re just trying to make sure there is a safe place for everyone to be.”

Folks lined up for the laundry room, while others sat and drank coffee.

One man who arrived from the hospital was sleeping on a bench under a blanket inside the old warehouse, which was converted to a shelter using local donations.

The center does not cook meals, but normally has some snacks on hand.

Greim was having a difficult time trying to find an open restaurant to donate lunch for those who normally get a hot meal at Mulberry.

After closing at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Greim plans to open again first thing Thursday morning when temperatures could plunge to the upper teens and icy roads will still be a problem.

“We can set breakfast up in the morning,” she said. “We could have cereal, fruit, get the coffee going.”

She realizes many of the regular volunteers won’t be able to make it in, but she was confident they would have a skeleton crew to open again at 7 a.m.

“We’ll do what we can,” she said. “We may not have everything open, but we can at least get the place warmed up and get people in.”

Just around the block near Central City Park, a couple of other volunteers braved conditions to care for homeless animals.

There is no indoor shelter available for about 100 dogs housed outside at the All About Animals shelter.

The animals were barking and jumping on the cages as Brandon Yawn and his uncle arrived to check on them.

“We’re having to clean the kennels out, scoop poop, make sure they have fresh water, make sure they’re comfortable where they’re staying,” Yawn said.

He used the spade of a shovel to break open frozen metal clips securing the cages where nearly 3 inches of snow blanketed the yard.

“Nobody’s wanting to come to help the dogs today,” he said. “It’s hard to travel.”

The cages have small shelters or doghouses, and Yawn was putting down fresh, clean hay and warm bedding.

“There are dogs that live in Antarctica,” Yawn said. “We try to make sure they all have igloos, but that doesn’t work out like that because we live on donations. We can only get what people give us.”

To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.

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