Helping the Homeless in Schuylkill County

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POTTSVILLE -- Although this was another hot day, an organization in Schuylkill County is preparing for the winter cold.

An overnight shelter for the homeless will soon open in Pottsville, and it will be the only men's and women's homeless shelter in the county.

Inside the United Presbyterian Church on Mahantongo Street, the room with 13 beds may seem small, but it will soon be a big deal for homeless men and woman in Schuylkill County. For many of them, it'll be the only warm place in Schuylkill County for them to sleep this winter.

"We want to get the people off the streets in the bitter cold and help them out," said Sue Lehman, United Presbyterian Church.

Thanks to a county grant and the United Presbyterian Church volunteering the shelter space, an organization called My Father's House plans to open up this overnight shelter at the end of the month.

My Father's House formed at the end of last year, with only the capability at the time to be a daytime shelter on South Centre Street. It helped the homeless with food and even finding jobs.

"We've been able to help hard-working Americans who deserve a chance, human beings that I think anyone would look at and say this is just a regular person. I'll defend the drug and alcohol people too. They want to try when they are ready to give up drugs. Recovery is a wonderful thing," said Albert Nastasi, My Father's House.

In less than a year since it's been open, My Father's House has helped feed and clothe more than 500 people in Schuylkill County. That includes 200 homeless people. It's also helped 19 people get clean and sober.

"This place is a life saver, 100%. I'd recommend anybody to come here. You could be a millionaire and fall to the lowest," said William Hill, who was formerly homeless.

"People are very quick to judge addicts and homeless. I try and give back what was given to me," said April Hughes, who was also formerly homeless.

The couple was helped out by My Father's House earlier this year. They now have their own place. Each has a job, and they've been sober for more than three months.

Both now volunteer at My Father's House, knowing firsthand how a warm bed and a helping hand can make all the difference.

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