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Homeless Battling Weather, Need Help

As the winter weather becomes worse, we often forget about those living without beds, food or shelter. Daily the homeless brave the harsh weather in order to survive.
The Wellspring Outreach Coordinator Billy Varner says he needs community support to help the homeless in the Arklamiss. (Felicia Bolton)
The Wellspring Outreach Coordinator Billy Varner says he needs community support to help the homeless in the Arklamiss. (Felicia Bolton)

MONROE, Louisiana – As the winter weather becomes worse, we often forget about those living without beds, food or shelter. Daily the homeless brave the harsh weather in order to survive. 

Now The Wellspring is branching out their community outreach by helping many homeless people living across the Arklamiss.

“Well this is where I live right now for the time, because I ain’t [sic] got no where else. I’ve been here for 3 years and that’s all I got is this right here,” said 60-year-old homeless man Johnny Jackson.

We drive by people like Johnny Jackson everyday.  A corner under a bridge is the elderly man’s home and a rugged mat is where he lays his head every night.

“[It’s] real bad. If it’s like 40, you feel it like 30,” said Jackson.

But Johnny’s not alone. He’s one of thousands who are homeless in the Arklamiss.

Spending time both in and out of jail, he stated that he’s fallen on tough times.

“I had a wife. But the kid is gone. He died,” said Jackson.

The people fighting to end this problem stated the homeless aren’t always found roaming the streets.  There’s a “hidden homelessness” in North Louisiana.

“It’s hard to recognize them, because a lot of them look just like you and I. Some of them are working. Some of their kids are in school during the day. They are sleeping in cars at night," stated The Wellspring Outreach Coordinator Billy Varner.

Varner spends his time meeting one on one with those in need and supplying them with basic necessities.

“One of the things that amazes me is that a lot of the homeless population I come in contact with say  'they like Monroe for the simple fact that they can disappear in the general population,” stated Varner.

He said that this struggle is deeper than finding a job. It’s often a domino effect from medical conditions.

 “They don’t choose to be this way. Some of them have mental health issues and are not taking their medication. They are just in need of services,” he said.  

Varner is looking to do more and he needs our help to get folks like Johnny off the streets.

“Often times, they don’t have family and there’s no one to reach out to. [There’s] no one to help. Because of their differences we tend to, as a community, just turn our heads. When we actually should be giving them a hand up,” he said.

If you would like to volunteer or donate to The Wellspring, please contact them at 318-651-9314 or click here for more info http://www.wellspringalliance.org/.

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