Local outreach programs trying to fight homelessness

SOUTH BEND, Ind.--- Freezing temperatures have played a role in two confirmed homeless deaths this winter.

The St. Joseph County coroner confirmed the identity of a 57-year-old man found deceased on Saturday evening as Darrel W. Bradberry.

Bradberry was found under the bridge at South and Main streets.

Bradberry died of natural causes, but hypothermia was a factor in his death, according to the coroner.

Local outreach programs in South Bend are trying to fight homelessness one step at a time to keep the homeless safe.

“Certainly in the winter, the personal needs that people experiencing homelessness have our very acute, they’re very visible,” said Steve Matteson, Director of Ministry Partnerships.

Those personal needs likely begin with a warm place to stay at night or winter gear to fight off the snow.

The community is playing a part one step at a time by donating items like children’s shoes, clothes or basic necessities such as toothpaste or soap.

“The community has a heart for those who the basic essential of warmth is a real issue,” said Matteson.

Hope Ministries is not a shelter in the sense that anyone can stop by over night for a place to stay because the main focus of the center is on long-term recovery for men, women and families.

The long-term program can host people for up to two years.

However, during the cold winter months, Hope Ministries does offer their Winter Amnesty program for a place to stay. People struggling with homelessness can also pick up necessary items to stay warm.

While no effort to help the homeless is too small, Matteson said the hope is to find a long-term solution.

“I think we would all agree… I hope we would all agree that this is a temporary solution,” said Matteson. “Unfortunately, winter is when the community thinks about the people experiencing homelessness among us, and then they kind of fade into the background when the weather gets warm again.“

Until organizers find a more permanent solution, Matteson said the community donations and support go a long way.

“We’re looking forward to the day where we don’t need winter amnesty, where we don’t have people coming to our doors looking for warm clothing, when we don’t need the care packages,” said Matteson.

For anyone interested in getting involved with local outreach program, Michiana Five for the Homeless will host a session at 1 p.m. to teach volunteers how to make plastic mats for the homeless out of plastic bags.

The event will be held at the Tutt Library Branch at the corner of Miami and Ewing streets. Michiana Five for the Homeless asks that volunteers bring a pair of scissors, a crochet hook (size P or Q) and as many plastic bags as possible, according to a Facebook post.

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