The two major cold snaps Graham has experienced within the past month have shined a light on the need for an official shelter for men in need of help.

“Through the holidays, we have the crisis center for women and children, but for men, it’s really a problem,” said Sandra Boedeker, program director for First United Methodist Church in Graham. “One of the needs we currently have for our community is to find places to stay for transient men down on their luck. It’s really an ongoing problem.”

Boedeker said that Graham sees transient people throughout the year, and even though the weather is tolerable for a large part of each year, a shelter still provides a roof, a bed and food. She also said that a shelter is a far better alternative than letting people sleep in the elements, or paying for motel rooms, which for homeless men is the only option in Graham right now.

The crisis center on The Square provides safe harbor for women and children, but to date that is the only facility set up for long term shelter of people down on their luck, and men are not allowed. There are other areas throughout Graham that serve as a makeshift shelter during inclement weather, such as the Young County Arena, but this is only temporary.

“This has been a long term need for Graham,” Boedeker said. “It needs somebody who says ‘I’m going to take the ball and run with it.’ It needs somebody who says ‘here is a building that’s not being used.’”

She said that she and people in the community have had serious discussions about which buildings in the city might be re-purposed as an adequate men’s shelter, including the controversial old law enforcement center on the southwest corner of The Square, now set to be demolished at an undetermined time in the future.

Boedeker said that a working shelter would also stop good samaritans throughout Graham from possibly being taken advantage of. Without going into detail, she said that there have been cases of transient men staying in area motels for weeks at a time, soliciting each night’s lodging from one church to the next.

Read the entire story in the weekend edition of The Graham Leader.