As Jerry Deyton was moving the last few items out of The Way day center for the homeless on Bradford Street earlier this month, he said he thought of the people he helped get off the street.
Opening the center in 2014, Deyton was looking for a new space after the current building was sold to new owners wishing to renovate.
“I just needed to be in that area down there, and I just couldn’t find anything,” Deyton said, having until the end of July to find a 1,500- to 2,000-square-foot space in the midtown area.
Deyton said the plan is to put the day center on hold for a little while and team up with other groups to do pop-up ministries where and when they can, though they are going through the permitting process to hold such events that would include music.
“If I need to open back somewhere if things get worse, the economy gets worse, we’ll find us another place somewhere and get back with it,” Deyton said.
When the news got out that he was looking for a space, a few people stepped up, offering donations, but Deyton said he was hesitant to take any money until he could find a space that met their requirements.
Deyton said he still has potential financial supporters should the need arise for him to reopen somewhere, though that area on Bradford Street has been critical as a central spot in Gainesville.
“The most important thing about The Way and its location was how central it was to where a lot of the homeless encampments are, so they can walk (to) get there for the events we would host,” said Ninth District Opportunity housing/program planner Michael Fisher.
Both Fisher and Deyton expressed concern about the center closing amid the rising temperatures. The forecast for the last week of July includes highs in the upper 90s.
“That’s the worst part about it shutting down because (of) having a place to get out of the elements,” Deyton said.
Fisher said The Way and Deyton have always been accommodating for hosting events for the homeless population of Gainesville. Fisher described Deyton as a nonjudgmental man with a “huge heart” who did everything in his power to help people.