The doors to a warm local shelter opened Friday for hundreds of San Diegans who find themselves without a home this winter.
The emergency winter shelter for homeless adults is located on at 16th Street and Newton Avenue near downtown San Diego.
It is operated by the San Diego Housing Commission administers program, the Alpha Project, and will house more than 200 men and women over the winter season.
"We have greater resources this year, but the reality is there's not a big enough inventory to give everyone a place to stay," explained Bob McElroy, president and CEO of Alpha Project.
But McElroy says the existing shelter is a start.
Besides a bed and a blanket for the night, the Alpha Project and the City of San Diego provide clothing, books, toiletries and warm meals daily to hundreds of men and women throughout the colder months of the year.
The shelter's priority is to take care of seniors, women and disabled San Diegans, McElroy said.
One of the people who benefits from the program is a woman who doesn't fit the homeless "stereotype.”
Local Mary Gayden, 59, has a Master’s degree in Psychology and was an ordained pastor.
"I've never done drugs. I've never done alcohol. I have always worked," shared Gayden, "I was devastated when I found myself homeless; I never thought I would."
She has been homeless since 2008 after she lost everything when it got too expensive and difficult for her to pay for her anemia treatments.
This shelter, Gayden said, provides her with hope that she can lead a better life and open doors for her in the future.
"You can walk through this front door and say I am somebody. I have something to say," added Gayden. "I may not have walked in your moccasins, but I've walked a journey."
The shelter isn’t just meaningful for homeless San Diegans, but it also means a lot to the members behind the scenes who work hard to give back to the community.
"Our challenge and our motivation here is to transition as many people into programs so they won't be homeless anymore," said McElroy.
Alpha Project volunteers and employees provide housing information, health treatments and other programs that enrich the lives of locals in need every day.
Those who would like to donate clothing or toiletries can do so by visiting the shelter in person. The emergency winter shelter will remain open until April 1, 2013.