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'I really don't know what I would do': Rockdale's only warming center opens amid freezing temperatures

"I really don't know what I would do:" Rockdale's only warming center opens amid freezing temperatures
Posted at 5:32 PM, Jan 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-16 18:32:24-05

ROCKDALE, Texas — Temperatures dropped below freezing Monday and Tuesday, forcing many residents to stay home, but not everyone has that option.

Residents like Amanda Dusek say they don't have any choice but to go to Street Ministries 25:40 in Rockdale.

"I live in a run down camper that's a remodel, so I don't have lights or water on my property," Dusek said.

"I just have my foundation, so when it's cold or whatever, I don't have heat."

The non-profit organization opened its doors as a warming center.

It's the only one in the city after churches in the area ran out of resources.

Founder of the organization Jason Hale says it's sometimes the only option people experiencing homelessness have.

"I know their living conditions, and so I know that they don't have a place to go," Hale said.

"Some of them before we started opening up were staying wherever they could. Sometimes, they would go over to the post office and sit in there, but then, eventually they would be asked to leave."

People who are homeless are at an increased risk of hypothermia or frostbite due to prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, according to the CDC.

Lack of supplies like winter gear and even food can make the condition worse.

But at the center, they get a meal, a sleep cot and clothing.

Resident Tikia Allen says the center is a safe place to go when she can't find anything.

"There's really not that much in Rockdale to go to. I know I have family but sometimes, they have a full house. There's not a lot of options, so that's why I turn to Jason," Allen said.

Dusek says it's also a chance to connect with her friends.

"I really don't know what I would do without this place — for the friendships of Jason the one who runs it. He pretty much will help you with anything. The guys who pretty much volunteer here to cook, they've become my friends," she said.

SEE MORE: List of warming centers in Central Texas and the Brazos Valley