Daybreak Center ‘Sleep out’ gives residents a look into homelessness

MACON, Georgia ( 41NBC/ WMGT ) – More than 70 Macon residents woke up–outside. In an empty lot next door to the Daybreak Center, people voluntarily spent the night.

Each sleeper raised $1,000 toward the Daybreak Center as a fundraiser for the services the center provides to Macon’s homeless population.

“We’re trying to show support for the homeless in Macon. A friend of mine asked me to participate this year,” said CEO of Coliseum Northside Hospital Stephen Daugherty.

But from dusk Thursday until dawn Friday morning, Daybreak Center volunteers got the closest to being homeless many of them may ever get.

“Tonight they’ve had a chance to have supper with some of our people and to visit with them, and they can put a face on homelessness,” said Daybreak Center Director Sister Katie Norris. “These are real people who have lives, stories and histories,” she continued.

Daugherty said the 12 hours they were out there felt more like 24.

“Around 3:40 I kept thinking it’s only two more hours, it’s only two more hours–and then I can go home, but some people can’t ever go home.”

They were without luxuries like heat or even a bed to sleep in. Daybreak participant Marty Salters said he’s lives out there for a year now and it’s important to stay warm.

“Always carry a lighter with you or some sort of heat source because right between three and four in the morning, it gets really really cold.”

Daugherty said he couldn’t understand how anyone could face the elements night after night.

“The ground was colder than I thought it would be. It seemed colder than the temperature–and then the noises…trains…cars,” he recalled. “I cant imagine doing that night after night with no relief.”

Many sleepers say it was a tough evening to get through but an unforgettable experience. Daugherty said the experience made him grateful for what he has and more aware of others who don’t

“It’s not so much learning what it’s like to be homeless, but it’s really drawing attention to the fact that we have people in our community who live in constant uncertainty–sometimes fear,” said Daugherty

Volunteers ended the sleep out on a high note–sharing breakfast with Daybreak participants who live that scary reality every night.

February 24, 2017 | Posted in