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Phoenix homeless shelter preps for frigid weekend

PHOENIX -- A Valley homeless shelter is gearing up for the frigid weather forecast for Arizona over the next few days.

Cold snaps like this one are a busy time for Central Arizona Shelter Services. The staff is expecting more homeless to show up at the shelter, near 13th Avenue and Madison Street.

"We'll see people that are homeless come in from the streets because [the cold] is just too much for them," said Irene Agustin, director of fund development for the shelter. "So what we do is open additional beds."

The shelter normally beds about 670 people a night but Agustin said with the cold weather, she's anticipating around 800 for at least the next few nights.

"In opening our relief shelter, there's obviously manpower involved in having extra staff laying out the extra mattresses and that sort of thing," Agustin said.

She said the shelter could use volunteers for those tasks and others and that financial donations are always accepted.

CASS will be working with Phoenix police and other agencies to try to get the homeless out of the cold. But Agustin admits that some people will refuse the help.

"They're reluctant to come," Agustin said. "For some, there's mental health issues. Some have had run-ins with the law and just don't want to mess with it. Some are loners."

Agustin said those who elect to stay outside will be given a blanket.

The shelter is located at 230 S. 12th Avenue and the telephone number is (602) 417-9800.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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