Joplin advocate living on street to improve programs for area homeless

JOPLIN, Mo. –“I’m just trying to create awareness so that people will see that there’s folks out here wanting to do something.”

Joe Johnson, also known as “the accidental activist” is the director of an organization addressing those experiencing homelessness in Joplin, called H.E.A.T.

“Spending a week being homeless, I left my home i’m sleeping in a tent in an undisclosed location, I have just the basic needs, i’m not taking any donations from anybody,” Johnson said.

Now, he’s using the next seven to better understand what he can do to help Joplin’s homeless.

“I have had people honk, give me thumbs up, i’ve had people yell at me get a job.”

And with temperatures getting warmer, he’s had to figure out how to stay safe in the heat.

“When we’re done here i’m gonna go sit in the shade  behind me and that’s about it there just aren’t options, places that are open during the day..they close eventually, it’s just like figure it out, being homeless is just figuring it out.”

Dianna Girley, executive director of Souls Harbor, a shelter and cooling center in Joplin, says rising temperatures can be concerning especially for those without shelter.

“When they’re out there and they’re in the heat, the humidity, it will dehydrate them really quickly and then they get all that heat exposure and start having heat strokes,”  said Girley.

She adds that having someone in this field get a small glimpse of what the homeless population experience everyday, will help when it comes to taking care of them.

Soul’s Harbor in Joplin is open from 9:00 am-3:00 pm Monday through Friday.