Chippewa Valley Street Journal - April 19, 2019
Volunteering this evening were Brent, Barb, Wendy, Bruce, Larry, Pastor Mike and myself. We thoroughly enjoyed the warm weather, the sunshine and the pleasant breeze. The weather was the topic of conversation with many of the people we served.
We talked with a woman who asked for two bags of food and water, one was for herself and one was for her partner. He had recently been hospitalized due to foot problems and was struggling to walk. She reported that she, too, had recently been hospitalized with some potentially serious illness. She is now taking blood thinners and thankfully, her symptoms have improved. Another person we spoke with has an obvious limp and stated that he has a knee that needs some "work done" on it. In these journals we frequently mention mental illness being a concern for those living without permanent shelter, it's important to remember the people trying to manage medical conditions as well. Whether a diagnosis is chronic or acute, managing the illnesses can be a challenge. There are people with diabetes that check blood sugars and administer insulin, there are several people with COPD requiring oral meds as well as inhalers and / or oxygen. Some have wounds that need to be kept clean and dry. Good nutrition is necessary for healing and well being.T The logistics of caring for any illness are often overlooked.
We talked with a family that obtained housing over a year ago who often come to visit us, we are truly a part of their family. Barb, Wendy and I doted on the youngest kids while the oldest child visited with the other volunteers. Wendy had arranged for Easter baskets for the children and the dad was able to get them into his vehicle without the children's' knowledge.
Shortly before we left, we spoke with a woman that we've known for several years. She has been sleeping outside of the shelter and came to get a pair of jeans that we were providing to her. She spoke of the kind people that help her as they pass by her. We are concerned of her status as she has health and mental health concerns which appear to be affecting her selfcare.
Thank you for your on-going support and interest of the ministry and the people we serve. Please keep the people noted above and all of the others we care for in your thoughts and prayers.
Karen - Nurse - Social Worker
#1 Karen is reading to one of our young visitors.
#2 We always enjoy seeing these two, their brother was too shy for the camera.
(Pictures used with permission)
Chippewa Valley Street Ministry JournalApril 12, 2019
Out on the street today was Brent, Cat, Marj, Barb, Andrew, Chuck, Mariah, Michelle, Pastor Mike and myself. The weather was windy with occasional snow and sleet and much cooler than we had even a week ago. We'd began to transition the winter items out of the van in exchange for warm weather gear but today required the cold weather items again. We're grateful to have the ability and options to make the necessary items available when needed.
We were busy the entire evening, we met people who were new to staying at the shelter and talked with people who have been there for a much longer period of time. We were reminded throughout the evening of the high prevalence of mental illness in this population. We believe that currently, mental illnesses are more concerning than any other problem, including physical illnesses or addictions. We observed a few people who seemed agitated, hopefully they were able to keep their behaviors in check and stay at the shelter.
We've mentioned a couple that we care for a few times in our journals. The man appeared but we did not see the woman. We learned from the man that she was in a local hospital being treated for pressure sores. She was recently treated for frostbite on her feet, we are concerned about her future and what life will look like long term if she remains on the street.
By the time we were ready to leave, we observed a large group of people at the shelter. While we're aware of all of the good things that are happening in the community in regards to the homeless community, its still concerning to see the volume of people who are in need of permanent shelter.
Please keep the people we serve and in need of permanent shelter in your thoughts and prayers.
- Karen - Social Worker, Street Nurse
1. Brent and Andrew watching our visitors come to us.
2. Mariah started with us as a UWEC student, she now works in Minnesota as a social worker. Great to have her visit and help out!
3. Many people needing shelter tonight.
Thank you for your patience for our latest news ...as you read this journal, please keep in mind this was written prior to our current weather event. This storm will revive the challenges that people living on the street endured much of the latter part of winter. Please keep them and anyone navigating the storm in your thoughts. Please stay safe!
Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal April 9, 2019
We're as happy as most in our area that the seasons have changed from snow, cold and wind to warmer, drier and calmer weather. We're seeing some of the damage, both physical and psychological, that was sustained with the hard winter we had.
Physically speaking, one gentleman showed us his fingers that had been frostbit. On both hands he had necrotic tissue that will need medical attention, one finger will likely be amputated. A woman was hospitalized for frostbite on her feet, this was no surprise to us as when we saw her on one of the bitterly cold nights, she had flimsy shoes on and thin nylon socks. We have no idea how long she wore those or what other medical conditions she may have but generally she appears to have health and mobility challenges.
The stress of the cold and the challenges of survival that many people met added to already present mental illness symptoms. In good weather treatment and compliance is a challenge. When someone is extremely cold, their thought processes are taxed and making decisions is made more difficult. The decisions may affect their safety and well-being. Generally speaking, many of the people we care for looked haggard and weary after the winter passed. With the warmer weather, we hope we'll see some healing and hope reappear.
Overall, there are many positive things going on in our community regarding our friends living without permanent shelter. There is a commitment from community members as well as agencies, city and county officials to help the people we serve. There is also a plan to increase the availability of housing and ultimately reduce the homelessness we have here in Eau Claire.
Please keep the people we serve in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you for your interest and support.
- Karen - Social worker, Street Nurse