Evansville Rescue Mission prepared for next winter with more life-saving sleeping bag jackets

New special coats designed to save lives of homeless in Evansville

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - UPDATE (3/30/16) --  Because of the Tri-state's generosity, the Evansville Rescue Mission now has a full-supply of life-saving devices for next winter.

Tracy Gorman, the Director of the Evansville Rescue Mission, posted this on Facebook:

"Your ERM has a head start on next winter!!! Because of the extraordinary generosity of this community, we have several Empowerment Plan sleeping bag / coats on hand to distribute when the weather turns bad again. Thank you for your support of this fantastic program."

The sleeping bag jackets are a first for Indiana and provide life-saving warmth to homeless individuals during the winter season.

14 News story from November 2015 on "New coats designed to save lives in Evansville" was featured on NBC Nightly News.


PREVIOUS STORY (11/23/15) -- A new program coming to Evansville is the first of its kind in Indiana.

And stats show it's a life saver.

Evansville Rescue Mission now has 20 coats that turn into sleeping bags.

So those who live on the streets and refuse to come inside won't freeze as the temperatures plummet.

Rick Greubel lived under a car for five years before coming to the Evansville Rescue Mission.

"And they told me that I could live underneath the car," Greubel said.  "They would knock on it if they had to move the car."

He knows how close he came to dying out on the streets during freezing nights.

"I snuggled up real tight…real tight with a big coat on," Greubel told us.  "I snuggled up in that and I froze."

That's why he says these 20 new sleeping bag jackets will save lives in Evansville.

"Let's see how much money we can raise.  Each coat is expensive - but it's worth it."

That's where Kyle Gorman comes in.

He first came across the idea from the empowerment plan, a Detroit organization founded by a woman who used to be homeless.

They made these empowerment coats to save lives in freezing temps.

"The coat looks like a regular jacket during the day.  When you open it up you can actually slide your feet in all the way to your knees and Velcro it closed again to make a sleeping bag."

The Evansville Rescue Mission is the first organization in Indiana to receive these coats.

Soon, they will be given to those who are homeless and won't seek shelter when it gets dangerously cold outside.

"Immediately my staff was interested because we saw the potential to save lives with such a warm unit," Tracy Gorman.  "We began investigating, finding out how much the cost would be, raising the funds, then getting them manufactured."

Approximately seven percent of homeless people die from hypothermia each year.

That's why Kyle Gorman was so desperate to get these coats to Evansville - and before winter set in.

"It's definitely amazing," Gorman told us.  "I loved the fact that I could do something that's going to save someone's life.  And it doesn't have to be at that moment - but I know it was a good pay off in the end and I know it's going to save someone's life.  So it gives me a good sense of I was doing something for the world."

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