New Directions moves to ‘Code Blue’ as extreme heat poses danger for the homeless community

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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The extreme heat our area is experiencing prompted New Directions to move to code blue, which allows for anyone to seek shelter there during the inclement weather.

“We call code blue, any inclimate weather situation that is dangerous for people to be outside, so we’re talking; too hot, too cold, too windy, too rainy,” Executive Director of New Directions, Kathy Jenkins said. “We’re going to open our doors wide to make sure that anybody who needs respite from whatever the elements are has a place to go.”

Jenkins says the summers are more difficult on the shelter than winters are.

“There is no way to get away from the heat,” she explained. “If you live outside, there is no way to get away from the heat. In the winter, you can add more clothing, but in the summer you don’t have that many options.”

Jenkins says the Coronavirus has been a challenge because new projects were halted and the shelter went several months without volunteers, but now is slowly welcoming them back in.

She acknowledges the risk of opening the shelter’s doors during a code blue in the age of COVID-19, but knows people need the opportunity to get out of the dangerous heat.

“We’re looking at a higher risk for our staff, we’re putting our other clients at a higher risk while we have spent the last six or seven months trying to do everything we could to protect who live with us, who work with us,” she said. “During Code Blue we throw it all out the window. So here we are, we are absolutely going to take the additional risk with bringing in additional people. No questions asked.”

Jenkins says she wants people to understand, the people who live in the shelter are a family.

“While you and I are at home and responsible for taking care of our families, it’s the same thing in the shelters where we have 90 men,” she explained. “We have 90 men who are living, working, breathing, eating, sleeping in the same building just like any other family.”

Right now, Jenkins says what they need most is paper products for eating. She says the shelter has been using disposable products as a way to slow the spread of Coronavirus.

If you would like to become a volunteer, New Directions holds a volunteer orientation on the third Thursday of every month.

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