On Tuesday, February 22, Mayor Lester Miller announced the Brookdale Warming Center would remain open an additional 60 days to continue serving people in need of a safe and dry place to stay.
“We’ve seen too many good things happen to all of sudden close it down. We have gotten an extension through June 1 and that’s that many more lives we can save,” said Mayor Miller. “We realize come April and May, it won’t be cold. But the Warming Center doesn’t just mean the heat…it means the heart, too. We can’t turn our back on people that need our help.”
This extension will help Macon-Bibb County and its partners continue to build a more permanent solution to an obvious unmet need in the community. There are currently more than 150 people staying in the Center, including about 20 children ages 4 months to 17.
Also during that announcement, it was announced that employees from Southern Trust Insurance and Southern Specialty Underwriters were donating $10,000 and the Peyton Anderson Foundation was donating $25,000 to support the residents staying at the Center.
“We are under 100 employees all together, but we are small but mighty. We’re always frequently impressed at how generous our group is,” said Jessica Sires with Southern Trust Insurance Company. “We were so excited to know we were going to give to this very necessary, this very needed facility.”
“In this time of social distancing, the Brookdale Warming Center has brought our community together through the sharing of all our resources,” said Karen Lambert, President & CEO of the Peyton Anderson Foundation. “You are having a very positive and transformational impact on the lives of others.”
Speaking with overwhelming emotion in his voice, the Center’s Director, Steve Bell, spoke about the amount of generosity the community has shown and how it has come together to help other people.
“In the very beginning, it was crisis mode…let’s get these people off the streets. Now it’s…how can we move the needle and get them into housing and get them employment,” said Bell, talking about the number of job applications they’ve helped people fill out and submit, the bus passes they’ve bought to reunite families, the help they’ve provided students be ready for school, the Veterans’ services they’ve matched up for people, and so much more.
“I’ve been involved in a lot of nonprofit work, and I have never seen the outpouring of love and empathy from this community as I have for this project,” he said. “Good things are happening and it would not have happened without the love and support of this community.”
Georgia McCanless, President & CEO of the United Way of Central Georgia announced that, with this week’s donation, more than $87,000 has been donated to the Warming Center, meaning no funds from the Macon-Bibb County consolidated government has been needed for this effort.
“We’ve got an initiative called Youth United in which we help them with volunteer opportunities, and I was heartened to see them vote to volunteer at the Warming Center,” he said.