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Helping Rural Homeless

From ABC News.com

A viewer called the 13abc Action News Get Connected phone bank saying it is hard for the homeless to find help and resources outside the Toledo metropolitan area. So we headed to Sandusky County to check it out.

Margaret Weisz, Executive Director of the Liberty Center, says, "We have been very, very full."

The director of the shelter in Fremont says it’s time to face rural reality. Homelessness is not exclusively an urban problem. Weisz says, "Because you don’t see it so much in the rural areas, you don’t have people sleeping on the streets, maybe like you do in downtown Toledo or Detroit, places like that. But they’re here."

Weisz says the next nearest shelter from the Liberty Center is 45 minutes away. "For Sandusky County, we’re the only shelter. We also serve Ottawa County, they don’t have a shelter, Seneca doesn’t have a shelter. It’s very difficult in this rural area," says Weisz.

The Liberty Center can house up to 24 people at a time. And they’re turning people away. The need has increased 30 percent compared to last year because of the economy.

Weisz says, "Most of the people we see are families with children." Like the Mejia family. Adolfo Meija says, "We’ve been here for two months."

Adolfo Mejia, 42, of Fremont recently lost his manufacturing job. He, his wife, and their four kids are staying at Liberty Center as the couple looks for work and the kids go to school. "It feels good that there are people out there that will help us. While we’re here we don’t have any wants. Everything we need is here – help, support," says Mejia.

As the shelter works to get them back on their feet, the director is working to grow operations. The center mainly runs on donations. "There’s not a whole lot out there government-wise other than what we’re already receiving. So it’s help from the community, people locally that want to help their fellow neighbor," says Weisz

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