Valdosta homeless man fighting more than just the cold

By: Noelani Mathews | WCTV Eyewitness News
January 2, 2018

LOWNDES COUNTY, Ga. (WCTV) -- Every day, people pass Ernie Matchett on the street countless times without a backward glance.

"They say 'You're homeless,' then ride right by," he said. "You're wandering the streets, staying in abandoned houses or buildings with no electricity, no lights, no water."

Ernie is homeless and is fighting more than just the cold.

He suffers from pancreatic cancer, and a life that's dealt him a bad hand one too many times.

"Sometimes, you don't tell people because they won't help you anyway," he explained.

Matchett applied for a job with the Salvation Army this past Christmas, but got the bad news about his health instead.

"I just needed somewhere to stay. Somewhere to stay warm."

Now, the Salvation Army is offering something else: A warm bed and people that care.

"It's a feeling of knowing that we've made a difference in someone's life who can't do anything for us," said Lt. Thomas of the Salvation Army.

The agency helped Ernie find refuge from the bone-chilling cold.

As the temperature continues to drop, three shelters have opened in Lowndes County:

  • The Salvation Army on Virginia Avenue
  • Grace Fellowship Church
  • New Horizons Homeless Shelter

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