By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The winter may be over, but it sure doesn’t feel like spring — especially for people who live on the streets.
For the past six winters, the Bethesda Project has partnered with Broad Street Ministries to provide an overnight drop in center for the chronically homeless. The “Cafe,” as it is called, is open from 9:30 pm to 6:30 am from December 16th until March 31st.
“We provide soup, coffee, hot beverages,” says Misty Sparks, who runs the program for Bethesda Project. She says they’ve served nearly 500 homeless individuals during the winter season. She says the service probably won’t be extended beyond that date even if there’s an exceptionally cold night.
“It has been exceptionally cold,” she says. “And the city calls when it’s exceptionally cold- Code Blues. And it increases our capacity on those nights so we can serve more people.”
Out of 75 days of winter, Sparks says there have been roughly 30 code blue nights. Forecasters say it could be weeks before the weather turns.
“A big reason why we can’t extend services like the cafe is because we have a lack of funding,” says Miranda Barthmus, director of development for Bethesda project. She says that is why the organization’s upcoming fundraiser is critical. Last year, it raised $300,000.
“We hope that this year we’ll beat last year,” she says. “We really operate all of our 15 sites on such a shoe string budget.”
Barthmus says 90-percent of their funding goes directly to providing services.
The gala is April 30th and Citizens Bank Park. For more info, go to www.bethesdaproject.org.