When Bethesda Mission’s green flag goes up, ice cold weather is going down.
“It means business. Serious business,” said Simon Randolph, Bethesda Mission house supervisor.
Serious business for serious weather. Usually, shelter seekers have to come in at certain hours to sleep over, but under the green flag, people can show up any hour of the day, no questions asked.
“When it’s like this — brutal cold — you don’t have to wait until a certain time to come in. You can come in,” Randolph said.
Over the last few days of cold, ice and everything not nice, Bethesda Mission has seen a sharp increase in overnight guests. They said around 20 to 30 more people are staying at just the men’s shelter, alone.
Across town, another group braved the temperatures.
“You know, we’ve been doing this for — I think now — almost a decade together in partnership, and this is the coldest I’ve ever remembered,” said Mayor Eric Papenfuse.
Papenfuse and students from the Boys and Girls Club captured the spirit of Martin Luther King by taking their day off to feed the community.
“The Boys and Girls Club does so much for them on a daily and weekly basis. It’s a place for them to do homework, play sports and hang out with their friends, and this is just a chance to come together and give back to the community,” Papenfuse said.
A community where even on the coldest day, they don’t give the cold shoulder.
“Well, you know what really gives me hope? These young people give me hope,” Papenfuse said.