Greenville Homeless Beat The Heat At Shelters, With Help

We all know how hot it's been this summer with the heat index well into the hundreds many days. Most of us probably turn the air conditioning on to beat the heat, but that's not an option for the homeless.

Rusty Craft's sign says it all at a busy Greenville intersection: "homeless, need work, god bless."

"I'm trying to get a job - anything. Cutting grass- 'll shovel horse stables. I don't care. I'll crop tobacco on foot, if I could. I'm just trying to get a job. There ain't no jobs," said Craft.

Craft, who suffers from alcoholism and bipolar disorder, says he's been homeless since May 2008. He's outside day and night - meaning he gets little relief from the sticky weather.

"It's scorching. It's hot. You can see me sweating. Look at my hair, it's hot," said Craft.

On really hot days, he cools off by pouring water over his head, this time from a McDonald's cup.

"Well, sometimes you have to put water on you. I got a glass of water. Thank God. Just drink plenty of water. Sometimes you have to pour it on you."

Many homeless stay in camps in the woods and sleep in tents. They say it's hard to rest when the temperatures climb.

"It's about 104 heat index in the shade and you can't sleep at night in the tents. The bugs are biting you - better know somebody," said Larry Rowe who's homeless.

Earl Phipps is a Greenville police officer who patrols the homeless population and works with the non-profit group Angel Cops. Phipps says the number of homeless people has increased slightly this summer, with some camps bursting at the seems.

"Folks that had jobs that were marginal paying jobs- those jobs went away, and as a result we have some homeless folks that are brand new to the condition of homelessness." said Lt. Phipps.

Phipps and Angel Cops volunteers are busy making sure the homeless are surviving the hot temperatures.

"We're bringing ice into camps, trying to get water and gatorade, bug spray - things that are associated with the type of heat we have now - trying to get that into the hands of folks to make sure they're okay," said Phipps.

"If it was not for him and the organization Angel Cops I'd be dead," said Eddie Stringfellow.

Stringfellow stays at a camp off of Hooker Road, and spends the scorching days looking for work.

"Just try to keep a lot of fluids in you, but it's not easy. It's hot," said Stringfellow.

Others without homes stay at the Greenville Community Shelters where Executive Director Lynn James says they've been at full capacity for the past 3 weeks.

"I think the heat, along with other circumstances in people's lives, have combined to make this a situation where they're not feeling safe on the street and they don't have any other alternatives," said James.

That's what brought Kevin Brown in to the shelter.

"I got sick last August and couldn't work and as time went on, lost where I was staying and ended up in the shelter. I've got a disability case I'm trying to get. I'm waiting for a hearing on that," said Brown.

Brown says he's grateful for the shelter, because he has emphysema, which is dangerous in this weather.

"It's hard to breath for me, with my breathing and everything, so I come here, but it's too hot to be out there,"
said Brown.

Lynn James says people with medical conditions are allowed to stay inside during the day, and others are asked to leave from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., unless there's a heat advisory or warning in effect.

Those without any shelter, like Vietnam veteran Larry Rowe, who says he's been homeless for more than 25 years, say they get by through the kindness of strangers and Angel Cops and hope for better days to come.

"Well, you pray for a breeze and hope God sends you some rain," said Rowe

Lt. Phipps says the Angel Cops organization is hoping to open a day shelter in Greenville to give the homeless community somewhere to get out of the elements, fill out job applications and do laundry. He says if you're interested in joining or donating to Angel Cops, they can be found on facebook.

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  • by anonymous on Aug 17, 2011 at 03:53 PM
    i would like to add: since when have people become so inconsiderate and uncaring? i have been homeless and without transportation lately; not once has somebody stopped to offer help or a ride. i had one couple offer $20 at a bus station. however, as you see people pass you by as if they have no concern, it makes you question society, religion, and God...
  • by Grace Location: Greenville on Aug 15, 2011 at 04:37 AM
    Remember one thing, Except by the Grace of God, there go I.
  • by So sad on Aug 13, 2011 at 03:16 PM
    I have tried to help however every time that I try to buy stuff my sister stops me because she said that when you go donate people that work at the facilities grab what they want first and leave the other stuff for the homeless. If I could find or give things that I know will go to all homeless I will do it. If any one is looking for a job they are hiring at the tobacco fields I can ask my son if he can talk to his boss about hiring homeless only thing is that it is in Washington NC. May God bless all you guys and keep you cool.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Aug 13, 2011 at 09:08 PM in reply to So sad
      That's so nice. Niceties seem so rare around here. It's so hard for the homeless to get jobs, how many people are willing to hire someone without a permanent address? I don't think many people realize how easily they themselves could become homeless. Good for you for actually caring about someone other than yourself! Reminds me why I still like people.
  • by T. BROWN Location: USA on Aug 13, 2011 at 12:27 PM
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Aug 13, 2011 at 09:10 PM in reply to T. BROWN
      Most employers won't hire someone without a permanent address. And I don't think any food establishment would hire someone who didn't have access to clean clothes and daily showers.
  • by anonymous on Aug 13, 2011 at 08:04 AM
    may god bless you all; i have been homeless off and on myself. someday we'll figure this all out...
  • by Greenville on Aug 13, 2011 at 06:32 AM
    Being homeless is a said situation but some people do chose it--they are holding up signs that they will work--the hospital has lots of positions in dietary or housekeeping that do not require a college degree but you do have to pass a drug/alcohol screen. If they really want work do not drink or do drugs and you could get a job. Each person has to make choices. I have encountered in the past 2 brothers that were homeless--they did get a monthly check and did have the option of having a place to stay but they wanted to keep all the money --basically for tax payors to give them money and have a free place to stay. They chose their check and to be homeless. I do feel sorry for people that really try to work but due to the economy have become homeless. People need to remember do not live beyond your means and to keep money in the bank for emergencies. Don't go out and by that new car or expensive clothes.
    • reply
      by unhappy on Aug 13, 2011 at 11:43 AM in reply to Greenville
      on another note my unemployment ran out im sober and clean and cant find a job .now i am homeless.what kind of spin you got for that one huh?
      • reply
        by fred washington on Aug 13, 2011 at 03:21 PM in reply to unhappy
        glad you can pay your computer bill with no job and no unemployment check. i wish you would tell us how i would love to stay home and play on my computer all day
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Aug 13, 2011 at 08:59 PM in reply to fred washington
          Maybe their at the library.
        • reply
          by duh! on Aug 14, 2011 at 06:32 AM in reply to fred washington
          you ever heard of a public library,thats where you smart a@#$%

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