John 3:16 Keeps Doors Open Despite Being Over Capacity
TULSA, Oklahoma - Homeless shelters in the Tulsa area are filling up as colder temperatures push them past capacity.
"Nobody gets turned away this time of year,” said Rev. Steve Whitaker of John 3:16.
John 3:16 has opened its doors every night since 1952.
Reverend Whitaker says this year has been hard.
"It has been a rough year altogether,” he said. “We've been running at almost a hundred percent all year long."
But on bitterly cold nights, it's even worse.
"People that are in the encampments have to flee the encampments if they're going to survive or they have to walk all night to stay warm,” said Whitaker.
At the downtown location, John 3:16 has 150 beds, plus some room to sleep in the lobby and the chapel.
But regardless of limitations, Whitaker says no one will be turned away.
"We are going to open up the doors, throw them wide open for anybody that wants to come in,” he said.
Whitaker says resources are tight, given the influx of people needing some place warm to spend the night.
"We hadn't anticipated this load level. And although we tried to anticipate as much as we could, there's a real need right now,” he said. “The cold weather has driven us beyond capacity and we're trying to figure out what to do."
He says if you or someone you know is on the streets during the cold, it's essential to find somewhere to go.
"Tonight, we're looking at killer cold,” said Whitaker. “If people stay out, there's a chance they could be hypothermic. There's a chance that they might not make it."
Whitaker says if you want to help, they're in need of things like gloves, scarves and stocking caps.
He also encourages people to donate, if not to John 3:16, to other shelters in town. He says they are all struggling to house the people who need it.