Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal - Tuesday, February 7, 2017
We had a new volunteer with us this evening, a student from UW- Eau Claire. She was quiet but seemed to be observing everything we were doing and listened quietly to the stories we heard. I wondered what she was thinking; we knew that she was very cold, as were all of us. Later she told me that she hadn't had any idea about why some people become homeless, she was very bothered by the stories of some individuals who have family members nearby and yet the person remains homeless. She had also been unaware of the volume of people in need of permanent shelter. Our goal isn't to shock new volunteers but rather to introduce them to the reality of the people we serve. In some respects, its good to see our work through a new view and be reminded of the importance of the people we work with as well as how we do it.
One gentleman that was new to the Street Ministry who shared his story was a man that I knew from my job at the county jail. He had been released from the facility and had no knowledge of the community's resources: Community Table, the library, Positive Avenues, and so on. After outfitting the man with a coat, a scarf and gloves and talking about the immediate future, he was moved to tears with gratitude. Our previous knowledge of each other was through a food chute in the door of the jail in which he received medication from me, no conversation other than healthcare is allowed between the inmates and the nurses. I don't know his whole story and it doesn't matter what it is. We are out to serve people who are in need of basic necessities including the clothing and food that we hand distribute as well as compassion and dignity regardless of their backgrounds.
As a side note relating to people not being aware of the community's resources, the Street Ministry is working with a class from UW-Eau Claire to develop a printable map and list of resources for people in need to locate needed services. We are using the time working with the students to educate them on the realities and needs of the people living without permanent shelter.
When the shelter began to open we packed up and went on our separate ways. We served about 23 people, one of whom is anxiously awaiting housing through a local program. He is hopeful to be housed by mid-February.
Please take a look at our needs list. We are in need of large backpacks, we give out several each week. We would appreciate any help getting these items.
Keep the people we serve in your thoughts and prayers.