Mission opening its doors to everyone Monday night - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

Mission opening its doors to everyone Monday night

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By: Bill Schammert

Sometimes, disruptive behavior or abuse of the programs will get you booted out of the People's City Mission, but with dangerously cold wind chills expected Monday night, that will not be the case.

"We're going a step further, instead of saying we're not going to turn anyone away, we're actively searching to bring people in," said Jerry Owen.

Owen is the associate director at the People's City Mission and says they are expecting as many as 160 men, and close to 350 people total on Monday night.

Jennifer Belk has been staying at the mission since September with her nine kids. 

"If I didn't have this place to go to, I don't know where I would be," she said.

Belk says the staff, volunteers and all of the special Christmas events have made this holiday season less melancholy.

Still, Owen knows there are men out there who will continue to brave the cold, risk frost bite, or even worse.

Ron Thyberg has been unemployed for almost five years.  He says he usually stays outside, but will stay in the heated mission tonight.  Some of his friends will not.

"Some of the guys just don't want to come in, and that's there choice." he said.  Thyberg believes it's less of a pride issue, and more of a need for privacy.  

Owen says despite a perceived economic rebound, the People's City Mission has seen a 30-percent increase in overnight stays by men in 2013.


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