GREAT FALLS – During the winter, the priority is staying warm, which might be hard for some who do not have a place to call home.
The Great Falls Rescue Mission wants people to know they are making extra room.
“The reality is in Great Falls, there’s nowhere else to be. You can take somebody to the hospital but they are going to release them. And it’s not appropriate to take them to jail. There’s no placement and we want to be that beckon of hope and offer them a place to be,” Great Fall Rescue Mission Executive Director Jim Kizer said.
Kizer said the shelter typically has a strict acceptance policy, but as the below zero temperatures continue, they are being more lenient.
“Normally we don’t take people under the influence of alcohol and drugs stay here until they are cleaned up. But in the cold weather we know they can’t survive and so we just really encourage them to come in. As long as they are cooperative they can stay,” Kizer said.
Kizer said the shelters have seen an increase in those looking for a place to stay.
The shelters had to make room for 12 men and 3 women, but so far, no families.
“It does kind of spike but we’re prepared for that. As they say, this is not our first rodeo, this is not our first cold weather snap. We definitely know what to do. I don’t want a person to freeze to death out there in their van or under the bridge or wherever they are at. We really want them to come indoors,” Kizer said.
He said with the help of donations, the shelter is able to continue to be up and running despite extra people.
With that being said, Kizer encourages those who can to donate. They accept monetary donations but also clothing, blankets, hygiene supplies and nonperishable food.
Reporting by Elizabeth Transue for MTN News