BOISE - With the start of summer comes a wide range of problems for the homeless and our local shelters ranging from crowding to running low on supplies.
From fatigue to heat stroke Leo Hellyer, a case manager at River of Life Men's Shelter, has seen it all during the summer months. It's a time when the shelter is bursting at the seams.
"We've seen people come in just for the meals that are baked like a lobster just because they don't have a place to go to hide in the shade or anything," Hellyer said. "As the temperatures get higher people are seeking some kind of relief."
They're looking for relief from a potentially deadly combination, heat and drugs.
"Whether it's alcohol, meth or whatever, they're not the making wise choices a lot of times and don't really realize that they're in a critical situation," said Hellyer.
Just blocks away City Light, Boise Rescue Mission's shelter for women and children, is experiencing that same influx but for a different reason. School is out. That means single moms often times have a hard decision to make.
"That's why we have a lot of women and children on the street because they can't balance the two of those, the employment and the child care," Hellyer said.
That's where the Little Lights Children's Program comes in.
"They love it, they live for it," said Ramona Soto, who has stayed in the City Light shelter and sends her kids to the summer program.
Without it, moms like Soto would miss work and some would even end up back in the shelter.
"I'd actually be in debt because even if I did work, that one day of wages isn't going to cover what that day care is going to charge me for those kids," Soto said.
On any given day during the summer, the program could have at least 40 kids coming through its doors.
"It started because we needed our moms to have some place for our kids to go while they were out looking for work or they were working," said Program Manager Kendell Thurnau.
It's a struggle that Thurnau knows firsthand.
"I was struggling with an addiction, I had struggled for about 10 years and I had been in and out of jail," said Thurnau.
She spent two years in the City Light programs and now she's working with moms who are going through what she overcame.
"I really learned who I was and who I needed to be as a mom and as somebody in the work force because I was a single mom at the time," Thurnau said. "I really know what they're feeling and I can relate on a really personal level."
The Little Lights Children's Program is only available to the men and women who have lived in the Boise Rescue Mission shelters.
"You don't have to worry about all that extra stuff like what they're doing during the day while you're working, where are they going to eat, are they going to be cool enough because it's hot out there," Soto said.
During the summer Hellyer says the Boise Rescue Mission cafeteria on River Street will be open to the public for meals, as well as a cooling station.
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