Volunteers hit the streets to help those in need as temperatures plummet

Group takes services to streets, making sure homeless have resources

DETROIT – For nearly 140 years, Franklin Wright Settlements has been a life-saving shelter for those in need.

As temperatures dropped this week, they took their services to the streets, making sure Detroit's homeless population had resources.

It was a busy night on Franklin Wright's No. 1 bus. For hours, staff had been driving around giving out blankets and other items in the dangerously cold conditions.

The small and determined group is making a difference one stop at a time.

"I don't think about it. I just go out and help people," said Charles Davis, 69, with Franklin Wright Settlements. "There's nothing to think about. People need help, and you're out there, then you reach out."

It's not just folks sleeping on the sidewalk who need help. Sometimes, families living in homes just don't have enough to get by, and as temperatures plummet, the need for help soars.

"They don't have blankets and stuff to cover up, clothes. They need everything," Davis said.

Davis was homeless once and said the majority of the folks he meets do not want to be taken to a shelter.

"They don't want to lose their spot, because once you move, you lose," Davis said.

"I wanted to give them, like, stuff that they might need, like blankets and stuff," said Robert Gatewood, 12.

Robert's dad was driving the bus on the lookout for those in need. The 12-year-old was right there alongside him.

"It makes me feel good about me, about myself, because I gave back," Robert said.

The human services agency coordinates with area churches and community organizations, providing a wide array of services.

"We're alright. We can go home and lay down, go to bed, eat, sleep, whatever. But we've got people who need some help, so we do the best we can," Davis said.

Anyone who sees someone homeless or in need of help is urged to contact Franklin Wright at 313-579-1000 for outreach and in-home services.

The not-for-profit helps about 600 people every year. It estimates it has served more than 200 alone due to the severe cold.

About the Authors: