During Frigid weather Flint shelters are there to keep homeless safe

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FLINT (WJRT) - (01/21/2019) - With the frigid temperatures finally hitting Mid-Michigan, many in Genesee County are left looking for shelter to keep warm and that's where My Brother's Keeper comes into play.

"They don't have anywhere to go,” said Debra Hayes, the executive director of My Brother’s Keeper in Flint. “Especially on a day like today, some businesses are closed they would normally go and sit and have coffee or go to the pavilion to go sit and stay warm or go to the Farmers Market and stay warm."

My Brother’s Keeper offers a place for men 18 years and older to turn to in need. They operate 24 hours a day and serve coffee as well as meals.

Anthony Pitts has been coming to My Brother’s Keeper since April. And during these winter months it's more valuable than ever.

"It's great; I don't like being out in the cold, its freezing outside,” said Pitts. “It's good for everyone to come in and stay warm and sit back and relax. I don't have to worry about where I'm going to go or nothing like that."

Hayes said they haven’t been extremely busy this year because of the mild winter, but they are expecting high numbers this week.

My Brother’s Keeper is able to provide 35 people a place to sleep and Hayes said they've been able to hold up to 47 men before.

"People know that we're open, they know our best practices,” said Hayes. “They know we care about them and they know they can come here."

Dr. Michael Jaggi, the chairman of emergency Medicine at Hurley Hospital in Flint treats several homeless people each winter for cold-related injuries.

"When it comes to hypothermia and your body temperature dropping it is true that it will sneak up on you and then before you know it your body temperature is dropping,” said Jaggi.

Frostbite is also another major injury Jaggi sees annually. Wearing multiple layers can help protect you from the cold, but you must also keep them dry, which he says is often causes the loss of frostbitten limbs.

Pitts said there is no secret to surviving in extreme cold and when temperatures reach this low it can be deadly.

"It's impossible to have a secret. Abandoned houses are not good," said Pitts. "I don't want to see anybody in here that I know or talking to or socialize with be in an abandoned house and we get the news that we find them frozen and dead. I don't want to hear that about nobody."

Pitts says My Brother's Keeper has helped him land a job and soon he will be moving into a place of his own.

In Flint, if you see someone out on the street you are encouraged to call the My Brother's Keeper at 810-234-1163 or the Shelter of Flint at 810-239-5433. Both have resources to try and get people out of the cold.

Other shelters in Mid-Michigan include Good Samaritan Rescue Mission of Bay City at 989-893-5973, City Rescue Mission of Saginaw at 989-752-6051 and Midland's Open Door at 989-835-2291.

They provide men, women and children with warm beds.

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