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Wake County Shelter Provides Homeless With More Than A Place To Eat, Sleep

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RALEIGH — One shelter in Wake County is trying to give the homeless more than just a place to sleep and a meal.

For the last ten years, the city ran what was known as the overflow shelter. When the county took it over in June, they made major changes.

First of all, women were moved to another shelter. Men sleep in beds instead of on cots and mats. However, the most important change is in philosophy. They now want to treat the whole person.

Carl Sandlin lost everything, including his home during Hurricane Floyd. He is now trying to rebuild his life, and he is doing it in the Wake County men's shelter on South Wilmington Street.

"They got all kinds of programs," he says. "One's got to work for me."

There is no charge to stay at the shelter and it offers more than just a place to hang your hat.

"Building relationships and gaining people's trust goes a long way in getting them to accept help," says Anne Burke of Urban Ministries.

The men can get substance abuse help, job counseling and AIDS testing -- all under one roof. The goal is to give them the needed resources to point them towards independence.

"We want to be able to see some movement. Men will start moving out and we can start moving people into apartments," says Mary Jean Seyda, Wake County Homeless Coordinator.

Sandlin says he is determined to make a change. He wants a permanent place to call home.

"I'm not going to give up. I'm going to keep trying," he says.

The shelter is getting ready for some major renovations in the fall that will give the men more room. The shelter also plans to hold a job fair in the next two weeks.

Anyone who would like to volunteer at the shelter can call919-828-8480, extension 16.

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Julia Lewis, Reporter
Lynn French, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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