Coming in out of the cold: Destin’s cold night shelter sees record numbers

Savannah Vasquez
Some that found a safe haven at DUMC’s cold night shelter helped load bicycles into a Destin Harvest truck. Pictured from left are Roy “Red Dog” Rowell Jr., Ed Fletcher, CC Fearson and Robert Taft.

When the temperatures dropped down below 30 degrees last week the new cold night shelter at Destin United Methodist Church was ready. The shelter was open every night last week and participant numbers swelled to record of 32 people by Thursday.

“It’s going great, and it’s the most appreciative group of people there is,” said Cedric “CC” Fearson Executive Director of Others of Destin Inc., who heads up the shelter. “Last night (Wednesday) was the coldest night we’ve ever experienced. We are seeing more and more different faces that are coming in out of the cold, it’s serving it’s purpose and doing what it’s supposed to do.”

Ferson told The Log that each person that came in out of the cold received a warm bed, new warm clothes when needed and two warm meals provided by area churches.

 “We gave out new socks, coats and clothing and we are going to continue to make sure they are dressed for the weather even when they are not here,” he said.

Friday morning, a group of men were so eager to show their appreciation that they stayed after the shelter closed for several hours helping to clean up the sleeping area and load and deliver bicycles for community outreach programs.

“They said they’ve gotta do something to say thank you,” said Fearson. “They take care of everything so well you wouldn’t even know they’d been here.”

One thankful participant that goes by the name “Cowboy” said he praises God for the shelter this year. 

“It’s God’s blessing. There’s been a couple people and they didn’t even have a blanket, so it’s really needed. We appreciate it. God bless them because they’re helping me out. I think CC and all these people they kind of go the extra mile to help people out so we volunteer and give a little muscle to help them out.”

Ed Fletcher was another man who stuck around the church after the shelter closed to volunteer. 

“It’s very good,” he said, “If it wasn’t for them we would all be outside so it’s a blessing in disguise that we have a place to go.”

Fearson said that the shelter is still taking donations of blankets and is now in need of camping equipment.

“If people have sleeping bags, camping equipment or tents in their garage that they aren’t using, and they want them to go to a good use bring them by,” he said.  “If we’re not open they are just exposed to the cold.”

The cold night shelter opens up on nights that the temperature drops below 40 degrees. Those seeking shelter must arrive before 10 p.m. or be escorted by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. For more information on the shelter or to donate items please call CC Fearson at 850-837-2012.