Salvation Army Center of Hope seeks help as numbers rise

Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 5:14 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The Georgia summer heat is around the corner, but even with mild weather lately, the Salvation Army Center of Hope is seeing a jump in people looking for resources.

They’ve seen a 150 percent jump from October to May, and those numbers could grow as the temperatures rise.

We caught up with them to ask what they are doing to prepare for the summer months.

It’s shelter with a plan.

The Salvation Army says its ultimate goal is to get families coming through their doors into permanent housing. after another local shelter shut down less than a month ago, they’re seeing more people every night with more than 2,000 families served just in the month of May.

Every night the Center of Hope is housing 100 people, only 20 shy of their max capacity.

“Typically, this time of year, whenever it’s not super-hot outside, it’s not super cold. We actually see the numbers go down, but with the Mercy Ministry shelter that just closed, we’re now seeing an uptick in people here,” said Janelys Villalta, Salvation Army PR and marketing. “More clients a night this month than last month alone.”

The Center of Hope have permanently housed 79 families this year and they’re on track to double the number they housed last year.

For Pearline Harris, volunteering here is a full circle moment as she faced her own struggles with homelessness a few years ago.

“Wasn’t working, I didn’t have any income,” said Harris. “I got, food, toilet, paper, towel, whatever I needed, it was given to me.”

In May, the shelter fed an average of 218 meals to families in the area, but with rising costs and more people coming into the shelter, they need help to stay afloat for the summer months. They’ve already doubled their food costs for the year.

Villalta said: “We really need the call to action for not just donors, but also volunteers. We really need the help to make sure that we are serving the people of the CSRA. It takes money to be able to help these people.”

And for people like Harris, they know it makes all the difference in the world.

“If it hadn’t been for that, I don’t know whether I would still be standing now,” said Harris.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can volunteer or donate to the Center of Hope, visit the Salvation Army’s website.