ASHLAND A crowd gathered around a barrel fire on Friday night and endured what many homeless people throughout the country go through to keep warm.
The annual event hosted by Shelter of Hope aimed to spread awareness about the facts of those who go homeless and the impact in the FIVCO area. It was scheduled during National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, which ran from Nov. 16-24.
“Homelessness is not what you assume it is,” said Debbie Sivis, Executive Director of Shelter of Hope.
The event took place at Ashland’s First Christian Church parking lot from 8 p.m. until midnight.
The event featured several guest speakers who shared experiences and information about homelessness in Ashland.
Erika Forbes was at the event with her son and husband. She is a social work student at Morehead State University on the Ashland campus.
“I’m just here to support the event and I think it’s important to be aware of what the homeless in our area experience, especially through the winter months,” said Forbes. “I think getting out one night and standing in the cold by a fire really gives you insight to what they experience and how rough it can be for them.”
Holly and The Guy provided music and The Salvation Army provided coffee and hot chocolate.
“Don’t assume people that look a certain way are homeless,” said Sivis. “Don’t assume everybody is an alcoholic or an addict. Don’t assume they are all criminals or lazy or mentally ill.”
Shelter of Hope is a 501 c3 homeless shelter with the mission to provide temporary, emergency shelter for homeless families, individuals and veterans. The shelter serves the FIVCO area of Boyd, Carter, Elliott, Greenup and Lawrence counties.
“I think it’s important to realize that not all homeless people are the same,” said Forbes. “We need to be compassionate and aware of what they are dealing with and a little bit of giving can go a long way for someone who needs it.”
Visit shelterofhope.org for more information.