ST. PETERSBURG, Va. — As Shawn Wise walked to his small camp under the Martin Luther Bridge on Friday night, he was overwhelmed by the police and what they had to tell him surprise.
“They’re here to tell me about this center, this warming station,” Wise said.
Sean, like many homeless people in the Tri-Cities, found himself living outside in harsh winter conditions. With lows in the low double digits and single digits, no refuges are open.
Marlo Jones, who was just elected to the Peterborough City Council, knew the weekend’s low temperatures could be deadly, so he reached out online to see if anyone would open a building.
“He called me and he said, man, you can use my building as a heating station. We took it from there,” Jones said.
Cory Wesson saw Marlowe’s plea and spoke with his family.
“She was like, use the studio, you don’t have to do anything now, keep having people in there,” Wesson said.
Within hours of making the decision, homeless residents like Sean shrugged off the cold.
“It provided me with warmth. It provided me with food. Love and caring people,” Wise said.
Soon, others from the community and central Virginia reached out to help.
“Blankets and sleeping bags,” Jones said. “It’s not permanent, so we want to make sure we understand that, but it’s about keeping people out of the cold,” Jones said.
“We can try as much as we can, but you know, the business has to go backwards and the next step is, where are they going?” Wesson said.
A private conservatory does exactly what the person who turned it on intended. It had about a dozen people who could have endured the cold and wind inside the warm building.