Nevertheless, tents and blankets are providing the only shelter for some people in Griffin.
Carver Road Baptist Church Pastor Tom Summers, his wife Stephanie and other church members are working to fulfill a mandate given to “the body of Christ.”
“We are called to feed the hungry and clothe the naked,” Stephanie Summers said. “People do not have any idea that hundreds of people are homeless in this city.”
Every Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at the House of Hope on 13th Street, Dr. Jerry Bush makes house calls to the sick and the homeless. He listens as they describe their medical complaints and makes a diagnosis.
“I have been blessed by God to be able to help people who live in underprivileged circumstances. Things in my life changed after I gave my life to Jesus Christ. But to see people living outside homeless, I thought this is unbelievable to see this in 2007,” Bush said.
The internal medicine doctor often accompanies Summers on trips into heavily wooded areas to meet the homeless people and to determine their various illnesses.
Summers asked that the location of the outdoor temporary shelter not be identified.
The mission team usually persuades the homeless people to seek medical attention at The Salvation Army. Medical supplies for the homeless are furnished by the McIntosh Trail Family Practice.
Bush recalled one of his first encounters with a homeless woman, who was ill from eating rotten eggs and catfish out of a trash bin. He treated her food poisoning and later treated her for pneumonia. Today, the woman is healthy and recently received approval for housing.
“If I cannot help somebody after a few days, I begin to feel bad,” Bush said. “I am compelled to work with the homeless. I do not treat people complaining of pain and I don’t perform surgery. But I have treated all kinds of infections and counseled people for drugs and alcohol. It makes me feel so good. I am glad that I have been given this opportunity to give back.”
Summers said there is no point in judging the homeless. It is now time to look more closely at the cause of homelessness and how the community can work to prevent people from living without shelter, he said.
“You can either be a part of the solution or continue to complain about the problem,” Summers said.
One of the homeless individuals, who identified himself only as “Mark,” has lived in the woods of Griffin for several months. He and five other people live in a campground with only a campfire to keep them warm. The individuals live in small tents with minimal water and food.
“I have plans to go and live with family in Florida, whenever I can get there. My family living in Griffin have turned their back on me and want nothing to do with me. ... I do have a GED (General Educational Development diploma) but I cannot find a job right now. I am trying,” he said.
Bush urges people to reach out to do what they can.
“You never know when this can happen to you,” he said.