Friends of the State Street Family help homeless find shelter to escape frigid temps
MADISON, Wis. — Most people like to escape the cold. During the past 24 hours, Madison has felt the coldest temperatures it has had in years. While many are able to find warm shelter inside, some are not as fortunate.
“The biggest reason is probably because they might be a couple. Married folks can’t go to shelter. They may have pets which is a big thing,” said Friends of the State Street Family communications manager Jeff Turk.
Turk says many of the people who volunteer for Friends of the State Street Family do their best to make sure people who live on the street have somewhere safe to go, especially when it gets this cold.
“When you’re out in this weather and you’re out in it for two minutes, you feel it. There are people that live in this,” Turk said.
The volunteers can be seen as people who are more than just friends. They are people who care about homeless people’s safety. People like Megan Wood.
“We see personal belongings and we are just going to do a welfare check to see if anyone is sleeping here,” Wood said as we pulled up to what she thought was someone lying outside in the frigid temperatures.
Wood typically knows the people she checks in on.
“This is pretty typical what we see, though. People don’t have anywhere to store their belongings. I mean that’s someone’s household items. That’s someone’s belongings. They don’t have a place to store everything they carry. So it’s left and the police department allows it to stay but that’s not a way to live,” Wood said.
Seeing people out in the cold is something Wood and Turk say is heartbreaking. People live in these temperatures. It’s why Turk and Wood feel compelled to do what they do.
“We kind of do a stakeout,” Turk said. “We’ve got supplies and we make contact to make sure they’re safe. Luckily, with the weather the way it is, we’ve gotten most of our friends we know of into shelter.”
Turk said his job has highs and lows. The best part is knowing he is helping people. The worst is seeing what some people have to endure while homeless. Despite the low points, Turk said helping people is “what life is all about.”
If you would like to help and be a part of the Friends of the State Street Family, you can reach out to them on their Facebook page.
If you see someone who you think needs help, you can call their Outreach Line at 608-535-9394.
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