Lexington homeless shelter battling cold weather & COVID

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – With cold weather creeping in homeless shelters are faced with a new problem – help people get out of the cold, or keep those already inside safe.

Ginny Ramsey, director of the Catholic Action Center, said that’s the problem she’s up against and it’s a harsh reality.

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“It was very difficult in March having to start saying, ‘No, we can’t take you. We have to keep this core group safe,’” Ramsey said.

She says it’s only gotten harder as the cold weather set in.

“During this cold time, this bitter cold, this, ya know, killing time, it’s been tremendously difficult for all of us.”

Around this time, Ramsey says the shelter would typically be full of people needing help, but due to COVID, much of the population has remained the same since March and everyone is tested once a week.

“We’re used to, particularly in this cold weather, being able to send out our ‘Compassionate Caravan’ to pick folks up and bring them in and keep them warm and have them there for just one night or two or whatever,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey says, luckily, the center has added an additional space, which has helped increase capacity and she even has a few spots left.

Even still, she knows many are being left out in the cold. That’s why the center’s caravan makes its rounds across the city looking for people to help, even if they can’t go back to the shelter.

Ramsey says on Christmas Eve, one driver saved a homeless man’s life.

“Thomas stopped to go see him and realized that the man was unresponsive and he was frozen to the sidewalk and he was turning purple,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey says moments like that remind her that the center’s work is still important, even if it’s different than before.

She encourages everyone to do their part if they see a homeless person in the bitter cold.

“Don’t hesitate,” Ramsey said. “Don’t make an assumption, oh, somebody had too much to drink or something and passed out. Even if that’s the reason, they can freeze to death.”

The Catholic Action Center takes new people in, if space is available, on Mondays and Fridays – starting again on January 4.

Ramsey says the Salvation Army and the Hope Center has room for more people.

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Bobbi McSwine joined the ABC 36 News Team in March 2020. She started as a Web Content Producer in November 2019. She was born and raised in Chicago, IL, known to many as the “Windy City.” She studied journalism at the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. While in school, she had a number of internships ranging from Free Spirit Media, ABC 7 Chicago and Illinois Public Media. She fell in love with writing in high school and paired that with a newfound passion for storytelling in college. She misses her hometown, but she loves the horses and rich history in Lexington. When she’s not working, she’s probably listening to music or binge-watching Netflix. She’s always looking to get to know more people in Central Kentucky, so feel free to shoot her a message on Facebook @BobbiWTVQ, follow her on Twitter @McSwineB_News, or send her an email at bmcswine@wtvq.com.