'Operation Cool Shelter' offers escape from heat
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DURHAM — The Durham Rescue Mission continues to help people keep cool as temperatures once again climb into the triple digits. It is part of Operation Cool Shelter, an outreach program that makes sure everyone in the community has somewhere to beat the heat.
As they sing hymns in church on a Sunday, the men living at the Durham Rescue Mission have a lot to be thankful for. First, a place to live, and second, somewhere to stay cool.
"I know that if I need somewhere to go or something to drink or something, I can go to the Durham Rescue Mission," said Billy Leak.
The Durham Rescue Mission has created Operation Cool Shelter; providing water, shelter; and a place to get cool to anyone and everyone who needs it.
However the men living at the shelter say the help from the mission goes much further than just staying cool.
"Before I came to the mission, I was a servant of the world. I used drugs, I chased loose women, whatever I could do to pleasure my flesh at that time or that day," said shelter resident Jason Clark.
Director Ernie Mills runs Operation Cool Shelter and said the number of people needing help is on the rise.
"Here during the summer times, we're breaking the winter records. The economy is bad, the temperature is bad, and it is really not a good situation," said Mills.
Mills said 265 men, women and children slept at one of the shelters Saturday night, which is a record-breaking number. Nonetheless, Mills said the Rescue Mission will not turn anyone away.
"We don't want you to stay in the hot house [with] no air conditioning. Come on in, if just for a few hours," said Mills.
The Mission currently has a new facility under construction which will seat 300 people. Construction on the building should be done by Easter; so if the heat returns next summer, the organization will have even more room.
Directors with the organization said they will continue to let people in during the day to cool off as long as the high temperatures stay above 90 degrees.