He hitchhiked from Springfield, Colorado to Johnson City, Kansas in the winter. Mike Bell was looking for a job. He spent his first night sleeping under the courthouse steps. He spent a couple other nights in jail.
“I’ve been in jail so many times it didn’t bother me,” Bell said. “[The police officers] would just put me in the drunk tank to stay warm.” As he made his way back home to Springfield he was able to catch rides from people, and he spent a few more nights in jail. “There isn’t much to say about it. It was just cold. You find out a lot of things when you are out on the road by yourself.” Bell said.
Bell’s hitchhiking days are over. He now works at the Smok Shak and is a resident of Cherokee. November 11-19 is Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week. According to Homelessalliance. org, there were 1,368 people homeless in Oklahoma City during their 2017 census. This does not count “couch homeless”, who are people that do not have a home, but live at friend’s and family’s houses.
Assistant Chamber director, Jodie Bradford has encountered over twenty homeless people in the last six years she has worked at Alva’s Visitor Center. Back in September, Bradford recalls a couple from Odessa, Texas that had been up in Nebraska to watch the eclipse and were making their way down south again.
That same day, Bradford encountered another homeless man who was passing through and just stopped by the Visitor Center for a pack of gum. He was on his way to California. Bradford said another homeless man came through just wanting to get a map. “I never mention the Enid Homeless Shelter because I don’t know how they would get over there,” Bradford said. “I always direct them to the churches.”
The churches in Alva have formed a Ministerial Alliance where Pastor Bob Brown is the president. Calleb Mosburg, dean of student affairs and enrollment management, has also dealt with some situations involving homeless students.
Mosburg said they try to make a plan for them that is feasible, so they can live in the dorms and he directs them to the churches across town that offer food throughout the week, but most situations are individually handled in a case-by-case manner.