Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ice Cold Weekend Expected Shelters Prepare for Big Demand

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ice Cold Weekend Expected Shelters Prepare for Big Demand

Article excerpt

Remember where you packed those gloves and long underwear last


Well, you'd better start looking for them again, and there's

not much time to spare.

The bone-chilling weather that normally afflicts Northerners

this time of year is about to wrap its stone-cold fingers around

the country's balmy regions this weekend.

A front sweeping in this afternoon will dish up some of the

coldest air of the season, with temperatures expected to

free-fall into the upper 20s tomorrow and Sunday.

A little nip around the holidays might seem romantic -- logs on

the fireplace, a chill wind as you search out that perfect

Christmas tree.

"But if you're me, you dog it on the street, like I do every

night," said Marcus Guest, a three-year veteran of the city's

homeless scene.

While shelters are opening up more beds in anticipation of the

weekend chiller, Guest says thanks, but no thanks. "Why do I

need a shelter? All you need is a place to hide you from the

wind," he said.

In the old wire shopping cart he pushes, Guest peels open a

plastic bag to reveal his weapons against the cold -- three

heavy wool blankets and an assortment of sweatshirts.

"This is all I need," Guest said. "It's cold, but you bite your

tongue and get up and go on. You don't let it beat you."

So, how cold would it have to get before somebody like Guest, a

self-described street-savvy country boy, would seek the warmth

of one of the city's shelters?

"It's not how cold it gets," he said, scoffing at the question,

obviously by somebody who didn't have a clue. "It's how run down

you get."

Being on the streets isn't easy. And sometimes, the sheer act

of living day to day takes its toll, Guest said.

For those who need someplace this weekend, the I.M. Sulzbacher

Center for the Homeless in Jacksonville is opening an additional

30 beds by moving some of its guests to a temporary church


Whenever the temperature drops, the walk-in traffic goes up,

said Michael Garrido, operations director at the downtown

center. …

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