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Homeless population seeks refuge from heat at shelter

The Bethel Day Shelter sees between 50 and 60 people on average each day.

ROCK HILL, S.C. — With temperatures dangerously high this week, the homeless population is especially at risk. The Bethel Day Shelter in Rock Hill is offering a refuge from the heat.

“For many in our community, there is not a safe place for folks to go where they can go to a place where it’s cool, they can get something to drink, and be able to rest from this heat," Rev. Emily Sutton, executive director of the Bethel Shelters, said.

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The Bethel Day Shelter sees between 50 and 60 people on average each day. It opens its doors at 8:30 a.m. every morning and stays open until 5:30 p.m. You can use the restroom, take a shower, and even wash your clothes.

But when temperatures hit 100 degrees, Joseph Bumgarner says it’s a sip of water that can be lifesaving.

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“Some people [are] on medication," Bumgarner said. "Being out in the heat actually drains you a lot more and some people don’t have access to water [because] they don’t have any money.” 

When the day shelter closes, Bumgarner goes to the Bethel Men’s Shelter to spend the night. If not for the day shelter, he says he would have no escape from the heat.

“Coming in here, being able to get something cool to drink, being able to just relax in the cool, that really helps out," Bumgarner said. 

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The day shelter is open every day. Sutton said in the last few months, she’s seen the need increase across all her shelters, and 36 beds at the night shelter are no longer enough.

“We operate the night shelter as well for homeless men and we’ve seen our numbers increase dramatically," Sutton said. "Where we used to have plenty of beds, this year we’ve had to turn individuals away at night because there’s that many people in our community in need.”

One way to help the Bethel Shelters is by volunteering. More information is available here.

Contact Indira Eskieva at ieskieva@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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