YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – There are more homeless on the streets of Youngstown than ever before.
A Hubbard Township woman is making it her personal mission to help as many as she can.
Patty Summers and the rest of the Youngstown Blue Coats spent a recent December day on a windy street corner, passing out survival gear to people in need.
One man was in greater need than others. He was in a wheelchair with no shoes and nothing to keep his hands warm.
So Summers dressed him herself, in a pair of boots, a new coat, gloves and gear to see him through the night.
“He sleeps in his chair at night, and he lives outside in a box, so it’s very heartwrenching sometimes, to see people like that,” she said.
Summers said the homeless generally don’t like to be seen. They hide away their campsites and sleeping quarters.
That means she has to go look for them.
“I came to it three years ago. I started doing a coat drive in Hubbard, and I figured that was all I was going to do is the coat drive, and then I ended up going out on a mission and doing a delivery,” she said. “I just fell in love with it and the people.”
Everyone is just one crisis away from the street. That’s a well-known fact at the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley.
“We’ve had doctors with PhDs staying with us, husbands and wives who both worked great jobs. Both got sick. Because they were sick, they were in the hospital. Because they were in the hospital, they lost their job. Because they lost their job, they lost their house, and now they were staying with us,” said John Muckridge, CEO of the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley.
While the rest of Ohio is seeing a decline in homelessness, the opposite is true in Youngstown.
“We have an increase in homelessness from 2010 to 2017. Our numbers have increased,” Muckridge said.
Summers started the Youngstown Blue Coats to reach more people in need.
“The man I was talking to today lives in a box. That’s his shelter. That’s his home at night, and to me, that’s just not acceptable,” Summer said.
She’ll go out, night after night, looking for people to help.