Body-numbing artic air has settled in the ‘D.’ Martez Radney is helping the homeless of Detroit escape the bitter cold.
Not too long ago, he was there himself.
Shuffling through snow-packed sidewalks with hands stuffed in pockets won’t fight off the deep freeze.
For those who find themselves sleeping on the streets, trying to brave these sub-freezing days and nights is downright deadly.
"A lot of people who are used to surviving outside. In these types of temperatures, there's not a lot of survival,” said Martez Radney.
Radney works at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries on Third Avenue in Detroit – one of the city’s 4 designated warming centers now operating 24-hours a day because the temperature’s dropped below 10-degrees.
"We don't turn anyone away," said Radney.
"I'm truly blessed. This place is full of heat. And they have 3 meals a day,” said Danny Fisher, who had come for shelter.
On average, 2200 people use the mission’s 17 facilities daily.
The organization’s Chief Operating Officer Barbara Willis said the numbers are up more than 10-percent because of the extreme cold.
"There have been some deaths reported because of the freezing weather. And we have to be here. We want to be here. And that's why we have the ministry,” said Willis.
"It really a matter of life and death. If you are under a viaduct, and it's minus 5 degrees, no matter the type of coat you're wearing, it won't suffice. You need to be in a shelter,” said C. Paschal Eze, DRMM Communications Director.
Eze said the DRMM ministries serves 52-percent of the homeless population in metro Detroit.
Martez Radney used to be one of them.
“I dealt with opiate addiction,” said Radney.
“It got bad because I hurt my back. And so it became a point where I was addicted to opiates like Norcos, Zanax, and it like you can have every, just spiraled out of control,” he explained.
Radney says he ended up losing everything, committing situational crimes, landing in jail, then on the streets.
Until he came to the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries.
After a few months, he was hired as a resident specialist.
Eze said about 35-percent of the staff is made up of former clients.
"For me the best part of working here is listening to people share their testimonies about how Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries has changed their lives, and Radney is certainly one of them,” said Eze.
"I encourage them every day. I motivate them. I tell them today is a new day. This could be your breakthrough day. You never know,” said Radney.
And he’s making a positive impact.
"[He’s a] nice guy, professional at his job. He's not just working here for the money. He's working here because he cares. If we had more people like that in the world, you know, it would be a better place,” said warming center client Randy Lundy.
And that’s why Martez Radney is this week’s Detroit 2020 Person of the Week.
There’s a help line to call if you know of someone who needs to be picked up off the streets and taken to the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries. That number is (313)993-4700.