Keeping people warm in the bitter cold


EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – Imagine spending the night outside in the bitter cold. A place in East St. Louis could mean the difference between life and death for some as the temperature continues to plummet.

The population at the St. Vincent de Paul Outreach Ministry jumps by 30% on cold winter nights. About 60 people will kept warm inside Monday evening. Patricia Hogrebe, who runs the ministry, is called “Miss Pat” by the homeless.

“She helps us a whole lot and that’s Miss Pat I’m talking about,” said James Wilkes. “She does a lot of things for us.”

The place takes in men and woman and children. They are fed three meals a day.

“It saves their lives, it really does. It’s cold out there,” Hogrebe said. “People who come here have nowhere else to go. It’s a wonderful alternative to shelter.”

Hogrebe has seen the forecast and that concerns her.

“We better be ready because we’re going to have more people coming,” she said.

Hogrebe said she won’t leave anyone in the cold. And the people who take shelter are grateful.

“It gives us everything that people need on a daily basis,” Justin Fleeker said.

The outreach ministry works on finding folks jobs as well. Once they find one, a client can stay here until they get back on their feet. This acts as a bridge from a troubling past to hopefully a bright future for the homeless.

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