High temperatures and humidity can make a miserable day outdoors.
They can also be dangerous and even deadly, especially to our unprotected population.
Joia Wilson has been homeless for several years and lives in her tent without an air conditioner, during Chattanooga’s scorching summer months, like dozens of other unhoused Chattanoogans.
“So many people pass out from the heat. A lot of times my friends would give me money for a soda and then I got dehydrated and didn’t even know it. My voice was horsey, I was tired and I was so lethargic,” Wilson explained.
Wilson said for someone who is homeless, it can be difficult to access resources that can help keep you cool. So while it was hot, she said the homeless needed to be equipped with their own water bottles and supplies.
“Because when you go to different resources, places in the community to ask, it can be as simple as using the toilet, often times they don’t have the empathy for the homeless. They’ll look at you, oh no, you are not a customer.”
When Wilson arrived in Chattanooga 3 years ago, she found the Salvation Army on McCallie Avenue, where Captain James Sullivan and the organization said they provided a free cooling station and shelter.
“Where they can come in from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., they come here, they can have snacks, they can sit down and drink coffee, they can have fellowship, listen to good Christian music, in the more protected they are,” said Captain Sullivan.
He also said people could play games, sing karaoke, take showers and let their guard down. When the cooling shelter is closed, they leave water right outside the door for those who need it.
“And I thought it was amazing how homeless people like me can just come and get water no questions asked and quench their thirst,” Wilson added.
Captain Sullivan said those who use the cooling shelter like Wilson say they’re grateful to know there’s a place that allows unhoused people to get out of the heat, clean up and grab a cool drink. , but above all that people still care .
“It gives me a strong sense of encouragement and a definite sense of safety and security,” Wilson said.
For more information on times and location, Click here.