Refusing Help

It’s damn cold outside, still many homeless people insist on their independence. They don’t want anyone’s “help.”


Freezing cold temperatures have crowds of homeless people taking cover at Syracuse’s Rescue Mission.

Communities around Upstate New York conduct an annual head count of homeless people in their area. They plan to do the count on a cold day because many homeless people are forced into shelters to avoid the unbearable cold. They say this is the best time to measure the number of homeless people living in the area. That count will take place in Syracuse on Monday.

Fighting below zero temperatures is difficult enough, but being hungry and homeless makes it worse. Ski Gaworski says the most difficult part is humbling himself to others.

“They think we’re a bunch of drunkards looking for our next drink,” said Gaworski.

/Some homeless seek shelter, others stay outside/

Freezing cold temperatures have crowds of homeless people taking cover at Syracuse’s Rescue Mission.

Cliff Voegel’s sleeping at the Rescue mission shelter along with more than 100 others each night. He was forced inside by the cold snap. Believe it or not, he has friends who wouldn’t join him.

“A lot of them are in cardboard boxes they line the inside of them with trash bags and everything to insulate them a little bit. Old couches around and stuff like that, they’ll put them inside for beds to sleep on and stay outside year round. They just don’t like going to the shelters I guess,” said Voegel.

Mental illness keeps some away. Others say they don’t want to be told they have to deal with addictions.

“The pride, they’ve got pride. They’d rather be out in the cold then be inside where it’s warm at,” said Lonnie More.

A task force will take to the streets to count the number of homeless people who aren’t using shelters to escape the frigid temperatures.

“The numbers of homeless individuals in our community, especially men single men are just flying through the roof. Last year we had under a hundred this year we’re well over a hundred,” said John Eberle of the Rescue Mission.

They’ll try to convince those who don’t use the shelter to leave the cold places they call home and come inside.

“In an abandon buildings or underneath bridges. You can’t be there that long. Factor in the mental health issues and addiction issues that many homeless deal with every day and they may not realize how cold it is,” said Paul La Dolce of the Rescue Mission.

For many homeless in Syracuse, getting inside is first step to getting their lives back.


About Kevin Barbieux

I have been diagnosed as being chronically homeless. I write about my experiences and opinions of being homeless
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