Volunteer network operates local shelters and soup kitchens

homeless shelter warm meal beds

Jimmy James, a homeless man from Arizona, rests next to the First Presbyterian Church of Crestview Friday afternoon while awaiting the church’s evening cold weather shelter’s opening.

BRIAN HUGHES | News Bulletin
Published: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 05:40 PM.

CRESTVIEW — Jimmy James, visiting from Arizona, praised Crestview’s hospitality, friendliness and local cooks’ culinary skills.

Unlike most visitors, however, James wasn’t browsing Main Street shops or sampling the city’s diverse eateries. He is homeless and visited local soup kitchens and cold weather shelters to get through the recent spate of chilly nights.

“That was a good meal,” James said, settling down for a nap on First Presbyterian Church’s sunny east side after eating at its Friday soup kitchen. A few hours later, he was a guest of the church’s cold weather shelter, where he had a hot dinner, a movie and breakfast the next morning.

“You have a pretty nice town here,” James said. “I took the cure for alcohol, so I feel a lot better. I can do it with God’s help; you have to ask him for strength. And your people here really help.”

James, who has no family, said caring people such as those he encountered in Crestview are helping him recover.

“We had 50 people for the soup kitchen today,” Rev. Mark Broadhead, the church’s pastor, said. For the evening’s cold weather shelter, the church hosted six homeless people, including James.

Ann Sprague, a Community of Christ church member, coordinates local soup kitchens and cold weather shelters through Hope Network, a group of volunteers representing several area congregations.

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