Multiple cold weather shelters are opening across Southwest Florida in anticipation of the upcoming frigid temperatures.
In North Port, a cold weather shelter is opening at 100 Church.
100 Church is located at 14525 Tamiami Trail and will be available every night starting at 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 24, through Sunday, Dec. 26.
In Charlotte County, the Charlotte County Homeless Coalition, located at 1476 Kenesaw St., in Port Charlotte, will provide shelter to anybody needing shelter from the cold.
Guest will need to pre-register by calling 941-627-4313 and arrive by 7 p.m.
For information, contact Todd Dunn at 941-740-1929.
You can also email Todd.Dunn@CharlotteCountyFL.gov to get in touch with Dunn.
In Hendry County, the United Way House in LaBelle and Janet B. Auditorium in Clewiston will operate as cold weather shelters.
Both shelters will open at 10 p.m. Friday night and Saturday night and close around 7 a.m. each day.
In Collier County, St. Matthew’s House will open up its two homeless shelters Friday night, and for the next week or so, for people needing to get out of the cold.
These are the only two emergency shelters in Collier County and they’ll open up at 8 p.m.
The shelters are the Campbell Lodge at 2001 Airport Road South in Naples and the Immokalee Friendship House at 602 W Main Street in Immokalee.
There’s plenty of space for anyone in need of shelter and St. Matthew’s House will provide beds, blankets, snacks, and coffee in a safe and secure environment for everyone. Guests will be required to take a breathalyzer test.
WINK News spoke with a man named Dustin Cheatwood who talked about his story and has an unfortunate familiarity with cold nights.
Cheatwood never wants anybody to feel the way he does.
Cheatwood lived in a makeshift tent in an alley next to the woods.
The winter nights become longer, hands shiver earlier, toes go numb, and the thoughts that bubble to the surface are paralyzing.
“Loneliness is a terrible feeling. I can’t really explain it. I can just tell you just you feel empty. You feel like nothing,” Cheatwood said.
Cheatwood explained it feels like there is no hope left.
“Nobody cares,” Cheatwood said. “Nobody loves you.”
But, miraculously Cheatwood’s story ended better than most after getting to St. Matthews House, going through recovery, and becoming a case manager.
Friday, Cheatwood welcomed people in and helped them escape the cold weather creeping down the country to Southwest Florida.
“What it did for me, you know, it felt it made me feel like someone cared, and someone loved me when I couldn’t,” Cheatwood said.
The vice president of St. Matthews House, Ray Stedman, spoke to WINK News about opening their doors to help people avoid the cold.
“They will be cold, they will be extremely cold if there were any medical issues that could exacerbate those issues. So what this does is it just provides that little bit of security for them a little bit of warmth, so that they can be safe and secure throughout this cold snap that we’re having over the next six or seven days,” Steadman said
“Homeless people are one of the largest segments of our population to become victims of crime, while they’re out living on the streets. So while they’re with us, they’re safe.” Steadman said.
If you’re in the giving spirit, Steadman noted they desperately need more blankets and coats.
You can drop them off at the Naples shelter or at the Immokalee Friendship House.