Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal - April 19, 2022
The weather has definitely improved! We interacted with approximately 40 people who are without permanent housing and many expressed gratitude for warmer weather. Still, it gets cold at night and we're still providing gloves, blankets and sleeping bags for a few people who stay outdoors. There is rain in the forecast and we're always concerned about the safety for those staying outside and have few options for shelter. On our last outing, several people were in need of jeans in the 32x or 34x size range and hoodies -- items that are requested year 'round. Currently, shoe requests are frequent as winter boots are being shed and the need for tennis shoes increases.
Speaking of shoes, the need for good shoes and healthy feet for our friends is crucial. We try to assess each person's shoes when they come to offer replacements, if needed. Ill-fitting shoes are difficult to walk in and can cause not only discomfort but potentially cause open sores with infections. Once there is a wound, it can take a lengthy time to heal.
We had a visitor when we were out last from out of state; he was hoping to return home in the next week but the bus ticket that had been promised by family still hasn't been purchased or sent to him. He had no phone and was borrowing phone time from others when he could. He came to us with a man we do know well who tends to look out for people needing help and routinely guides them to us. The young man accepted the food we offered and sat down on the pavement near our vans to put some belongings into the backpack we had provided. We periodically looked over to see if he was okay or needed anything and noticed that he had taken his shoes off. He began to massage his foot, wincing with pain. When asked if he was okay, he said that his feet were hurting; he had not planned to be walking so much and said he didn't have good shoes. Upon further inspection, we noted that instead of the usual type of insole, he had layered bathroom tissue in his shoes for some padding. We asked if he had any open sores on his feet, he replied that he didn't know. He took off his socks and we noted that he had wrapped his feet in bathroom tissue to provide extra padding as well as to try and keep his toes dry. As he cleaned off the shredded tissue from between his toes, we found him shoes and several pairs of socks. Fortunately, he had no blisters or open areas on his feet. He was very grateful for the help and stayed with us for a while and shared his story. We hope that he gets his bus ticket and can go home in the next few days and told him to stop over and talk if he is still in town when we're back out.
A few weeks ago, we had a woman come and visit, she was cold and struggling with the idea of being homeless. Her concerns were reduced when we began asking about her clothing and other needs. She was almost giddy with excitement at receiving a coat, socks, a backpack and various other items. While we didn't solve her most significant problem of not having housing, she felt cared for and was perhaps just a little more at ease for a moment. If we can provide a moment of peace, that is as important as anything else we provide.
Please keep our brothers and sisters in your thoughts and prayers; the warmer weather does not eliminate the risks of being homeless but only alters them. We appreciate your dedication to this fragile population.
- CVSM Staff