KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – As the region experiences some of the coldest temperatures so far this season, one area church is among those opening its doors to help those in need.
Shades of Grace Methodist Church, located at 313 E. Sullivan St. in Kingsport, will serve as a warming shelter for the rest of the week and is proving to be a haven for people who have no where to go.
At last count, more than 12 people are already taking advantage of the shelter ahead of the bone-chilling temperatures.
“This is the best place I’ve ever been, and I’ve been on the street 50 years,” Charles Garrett, a homeless veteran, said.
Garrett said the church’s warming shelter saved him from freezing to death just a few nights ago.
“These people are God sent,” he said. “These people volunteer their time. I don’t know what I would do without them.”
Pastor Will Shewey said on nights where severe weather could threaten the lives of people that have nowhere else to go, his church is a haven.
Shewey said the church will stay open 24 hours, serving hot food and passing out warm, donated clothes to those who might otherwise freeze to death.
“Some of the folks would be sleeping under bridges, under doorways of buildings,” Shewey said. “Some of them have literally said, ‘You have saved our life. We don’t know where we would go.'”
Shewey said on any given night there could be 30 to 40 people bundled up, taking refuge in his sanctuary.
He said that 100 percent of his church’s outreach is made possible by unsolicited gifts and donations from people and organizations throughout the community.
“If I need some clothes, I get some clothes,” Garrett said. “If I need a shower, I can take a shower. If I’m hungry, no matter what time of night or day, I get something to eat.”
“I think it’s the closest thing to heaven. When you are down and out they will pick you up,” Garrett said.
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