WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Warner Robins community leaders met for a second time Monday to brainstorm ways to help the homeless in the area.
Dozens of people want to help get folks off the streets.
"They have a heart for the city and they just want to make a difference here," Hayes said.
Brandon Hayes is one of them. He is a full-time union steward at Local 987 at Robins Air Force Base on Watson Boulevard.
"I have a history of recovery. That's kind of my background. I struggled with some drug and alcohol addiction the majority of my life. Four years ago, I had an encounter with Jesus, and part of your staple in recovery is serving your community, giving back. That was something that helped me stay sober in the beginning. It quickly became a passion of mine. I was not homeless, some of the same struggles that our homeless friends have -- mental health issues, drug and alcohol addiction -- I did experience some of those things. I did have a network of friends and family that filled in the gap when I was struggling in those areas in my life, so I very well could have been homeless if it weren't for my family or friends," Hayes said.
Hayes attended a meeting last month where code enforcement officer Brian Wise shared his plans to do more for the city's homeless.
"It's a growing concern. I know that's why Mayor Patrick is bringing this to the forefront. That's why they are having meetings with community leaders to find out what can we do to help our homeless friends here in Warner Robins. They are here and we need to help them," Hayes said.
"I stand out and hold a sign, and wherever the assistance comes from, I deal with it. I don't like it, to be honest with you, but a man's got to do what a man's got to do. He has to put food into his system and all that," Christopher Saint said.
Saint says he is homeless.
"There needs to be a shelter for men and women here," Saint said.
Saint says a shelter would give him a place to wash his clothes and shower.
"Present ourselves the way we would wish to present ourselves on a daily basis," Saint said.
Hayes says their long-term goal is to provide a path out of homelessness.
"A lot of folks will just need the resources of a something along the lines of a day center, where they have access to internet and computers where they can apply to jobs, build a resume; and you will need community leaders that can assist them with that. It's going to take a village. It's going to take a community to come up with some solutions to this problem," Hayes said.
In the meantime, Saint asks you to go and speak to someone who is homeless and have a conversation with them, or offer them "coffee or a sandwich." He says it's a small gesture, but it goes a long way.
Mayor LaRhonda Patrick's office provided a statement:
"I have a heart for all the citizens of Warner Robins, including the homeless. We have a tremendous support network throughout Middle Georgia and collaborating with those organizations to better understand how we can all work together is only the first step in the process. I look forward to sharing more as we gather that information and develop a plan to put it into practice," Mayor LaRhonda Patrick said.
Michelle Delaney with the city says they're just starting to look and have not chosen a site for a future shelter.
The Assembly at Warner Robins hosts event for homeless
Hayes invites the homeless to his church's next community outreach event. The Assembly at Warner Robins is hosting a free event for the homeless December 17 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. If you attend, you will find volunteers providing a BBQ, medical services, hygiene bags, clothing, and Bibles. It's happening in the AFGE Local 987 parking lot at 1764 Watson Boulevard.
They held a similar event in November and it was a huge success.