TEXARKANA — Cody Howard was tired of seeing friends die or suffer amputations from frostbite. The Church Under The Bridge pastor had to do something.
One of the challenges in providing for the homeless, according to Howard, is they want to retain their independence, like every human on the planet. As such, there is a hesitancy for the homeless to go into shelters, even during the harshest vignettes of Texarkana’s otherwise mild winters.
“A lot of people ask me the question, ‘Well, why are you providing it outside and not letting them come inside?’ And the reason is they won’t,” Howard told Fox Sports Radio 97.1 FM & 1400 AM Thursday. “The very reason that the warming station is there is because they are a group of people who don’t want to be sheltered, but want to maintain some level of independence because whether it’s maybe a mental handicap or maybe just an emotional struggle that they go through. Maybe PTSD and things like that.
“Some people they just can’t sleep next to a stranger beside them. And, so, anyway, we decided to build this warming station outside on the patio of the mission, and we’ve had dozens of folks come and go, and then a few have stayed and helped.”
The warming station maintains 40 to 60 degrees and is available 24 hours a day since Feb. 15. The location of the warming station is at the Church Under The Bridge located at 620 West 4th Street in Texarkana. The congregation, which started in 2012 and is now half comprised of homeless, got its name from meeting every Saturday at 9:00 a.m. underneath the South Stateline Viaduct.
“You know, our shelters do a great job, but there’s a community out there, many of the chronically homeless, they do not, they will not go into a shelter,” Howard said. “And there’s different reasons for that. But we wanted to address that need of it because I was tired of losing friends when I thought, well, we could do something about this if we just put our heads together and provided somewhere to go. So, the warming station idea was just something just given to me by the Lord, I guess. All good ideas are. Beneficial ideas are given to us from God. So, I said, hey, we can provide them a place outside where they can get warm.
For more information on the Church Under The Bridge and how to help, visit their Facebook page by clicking here.