Elderly woman, Army veteran found homeless, hungry and cold in Denham Springs

Elderly woman, Army veteran found homeless, hungry and cold in Baton Rouge

DENHAM SPRINGS, La. – Every day on his drive to work, Jason Naylor would notice a woman waiting at the bus stop. At first, nothing seemed out of the ordinary until it got colder.

When temperatures started to dip below freezing last week, Jason grew concerned that she was always sitting there.

Ms. Georgia, 71, an Army veteran was found sleeping at a bus stop during the recent cold weather. A Denham Springs couple wants to help her get back on her feet. Courtesy: Jason Naylor

“With the cold temperatures coming, I knew she would get cold so I brought her some blankets,” Jason told UWK. “She was covered in tarp and blankets and that’s when I realized she was a little older than I first thought.”

After Jason approached the elderly woman, whose name is Georgia, she asked, “Can you get me a hamburger and some handwarmers?”

Once he got her something to eat and bought every handwarmer left in Walgreens, Jason took it back to her and offered to let her sit in his vehicle to warm up. Ms. Georgia, as Jason calls her, was reluctant and politely declined.

“I’m a bald white guy with a beard and tattoos, and she, I learned later, is a 71-year-old black woman,” he recalled. “So you can understand her not wanting to go with a complete stranger.”

On his way home he went back to the bus stop to check on her.

“When I got off of work, I thought, well, if she’s not gonna get in my vehicle, the least I can do is go try to find some kind of heat and bring it to her,” he recalled.

Fearing Ms. Georgia wouldn’t survive the frigid cold weather that night, Jason picked up his wife, Jennifer, and they bought a propane heater. He wanted to do whatever he could to keep her warm for the night.

“I’m fumbling with the heater and I’m trying to get her fixed up the best I can at that bus stop,” Jason said. “And the heater won’t work. So I’m thinking, my goodness, what am I gonna do?”

“Finally, my wife said, you know, ‘Let us just get you in a motel, let us just get you out of this cold until this passes’.”

Ms. Georgia agreed and the couple got her a motel for the night. When the frigid temperatures stuck around followed by heavy rains, the Naylors continued paying for the room to keep her out of the cold.

“She has absolutely no form of ID so she really can’t do much,” Jason told UWK as he waited at the DMV for Ms. Georgia to get a Louisiana identification card. He says the only piece of identification she had was a military ID bracelet she was wearing, but even her bank would not let her use it to withdraw money from her account.

This weekend, Ms. Georgia is staying at a Denham Springs motel closer to Jason and Jennifer’s home so they can check on her. The couple has helped her request a copy of her birth certificate, which could take up to 12 weeks to arrive by mail.

“We have her on the right track, she’s safe, eating and out of the elements.” Jason said. “Motels are expensive and this is the cheapest route I know of.”

Ms. Georgia declined their offers to go to a nursing home or homeless shelter, they say because she is afraid of dorm-style housing. For now, they are paying for her to stay in a motel so she can have some privacy, sleep in a bed and rest comfortably.

The Naylors have setup a GoFundMe to raise money for Ms. Georgia. They want to help the Army veteran find a travel trailer or an apartment until she can find a permanent place to live. Ms. Georgia will also need food, clothing, shoes and other household items.

Jason is hopeful that once they get her birth certificate and a Louisiana ID card, she will be able to get some aid from the Veterans Administration, state and local agencies or non-profits.

“She served our country, she deserves the help,” Jason said.

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