Ten people gathered at an impromptu homeless shelter on Tower Avenue in downtown Centralia Monday night at about 9 p.m., as temperatures were plummeting far below freezing.
Carl Bohlin was the lone volunteer running the outreach center across the street from the Destiny Christian Center, which provided space starting earlier this month. As far as Bohlin knew, that was the only place available in town for homeless people to go.
“There are people sleeping in garages and under bridges tonight. It’s hard to come here sometimes, and give up your pride,” Bohlin said. “We need more things like this. We’ve got to give them hope.”
Bohlin said the need is much greater than the 16 sleeping spots set up in the shelter, and people could use more help if any other churches were willing to offer it. The shelter is set to remain open every night the temperature falls below 36 degrees.
“Some people in the community say ‘It’s your fault,’ and it’s hard. I’ve been there,” Bohlin said. “But with this economy the way it is, you make one bad choice and you’re out.”
A 35-year-old homeless woman named Michelle said there are plenty of people whose bad decisions lead them into homelessness, but most who use the shelters are grateful, and simply looking for a safe place to sleep.
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