GLOUCESTER, Va. (WAVY) — When winter weather moves in, homeless people start looking for ways to get out of the cold. In Gloucester, one place people turn to is the GUEST Shelter.
Volunteers with Toys for Tots stopped by Thursday with Christmas gifts for Clifton Reece and his family.
“I’m overwhelmed, I’m so overwhelmed,” said Reece. He, his wife, and their seven kids came to the GUEST Shelter of Monday, when the shelter started its 24-hour winter operation.
Reece said, “This is where we’re at right now, until things get better.”
It’s somewhat of a fresh start for Reece, who says growing up, there was no love.
“In 1986, my mother killed my father,” he said.
Just 10 days ago, he got out of jail. Reece said, “Throughout my whole penitentiary bit, I was separated from my wife and children. That hurt the most.”
Now his focus is on providing for them, and that includes a roof over their heads.
Reece said, “The GUEST program, Reverend John and everything else that comes with it. It’s a blessing.”
The GUEST Shelter is a network of Gloucester volunteers and churches that help and house people in the community.
“We opened to the largest population we’ve had in the first operating week,” said Pastor John Seltzer, who is the executive director of the program. He says it’s his goal to make the shelter feel like home for everyone who comes inside.
Seltzer said, “Unfortunately poverty knows no age, but those kids don’t deserve to know what homelessness is.”
In just a few days, the volunteers have made that happen, giving this family not only food and shelter, but a chance to start again.
“It’s like a thousand ton weight pound coming off our shoulders, you know what I mean?” Reece said. “Because it’s there and they’re there. They’re loving and they’re kind and to know that my children can lay down and I’m with them and we’re together.”
The GUEST shelter is trying to raise $10,000 in the next month. That’s to cover any additional expenses they might have if they reach capacity.
To visit the GUEST shelter’s Facebook page, click here.
To visit their website click here.