Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal - February 16, 2020 - Random thoughts and comments
Last Monday night I started the street ministry's area-wide welfare check around 10:00 p.m. by stopping off at the warming center. As I was parking my van I noticed several fire trucks and a fire chief's car drive by with lights and sirens. A few minutes later several more fire trucks passed. I entered the center and talked to the two volunteers on duty. They told me they had two guests with them that evening that had come from the overflow at the shelter. I talked to the volunteers and guests for a few minutes and then I left to complete my rounds. By the time I got in my van I had a phone call from the director of the shelter who said that there was a fire in the building behind the Sojourner shelter and that the fire department had asked that all the guests be evacuated and that they were going to be directed to the warming center. I then notified the two volunteers at the warming center to be prepared to receive around 50 more of our homeless friends until the fire department gave the all clear.
Now, this evacuation was no small task considering that many of our homeless friends were already asleep. The solo staff person on duty at the shelter had the task of waking the sleeping guests and directing them toward the warming enter. I patrolled the long line of guests noting that there was at least 4 people that were using walkers and another man that was on crutches. The sidewalks and streets were partially covered with snow and ice that had not melted or been cleared away. Thirty minutes later or so all the guests had found their way to the center. It was a struggle for many that were using walkers and also some of our elderly guests that were among them. Around two hours later at midnight, the all clear was given and our homeless friends began the trek back to the shelter.
My take-away from the night was there was a lot of folks that should be commended for making this evacuation run smoothly. The staff person at the shelter had only been working at the shelter for a couple of months but she did a great job keeping everyone calm and helping the people who were staying at the shelter along this difficult trek Also, the two volunteers at the warming center who were volunteering for the first time as they mingled among guests to make them feel welcome. And last but not least our homeless friends themselves who were helping each other, assisting those with walkers and on crutches and their elderly friends. In order to survive on the street you must help one another and this was a great example of this in real time. Please remember all our homeless friends and all our guests in our three downtown shelters in your thoughts and prayers.
Mike - Street Pastor - Chippewa Valley Street Ministry
Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal February 14, 2020
It was a cold evening on the street tonight, the temp was 10° but the "real feel" indicated with the wind chill, it felt like -4°. Pastor Mike and I were out and visited with approximately 40 people, many who were in need of scarves and gloves to protect their skin from the raw air.
Several of the people that came had recently been released from the local jail and shared concern of the challenges that lay ahead of them. One man spoke of the fear that he had that all of the people and family he cared for would no longer trust him or love him. He wasn't concerned about the weather and danger it presented or where he would stay, he was concerned about the relationships he wanted so much to repair. I have known him for quite some time from when I worked in the local county jail as a jail nurse and remarked to him that he's never looked better. Perhaps he has come to an understanding of his behavior and will make a positive change. A woman I have known for several years also appeared and we had a good visit, she was overwhelmed with where to start addressing her needs. We outfitted her with a very warm hoodie, gloves, backpack, socks and a number of other things that she was in need of. After a hug and some reassurance, she left for the shelter feeling some comfort, both physically and emotionally.
We met with a man that had very recently had surgical repair of a fractured leg after falling on some ice. He shared the story of the injury and added that he'd fallen again after his crutches had slipped out from under him on an icy patch. He's a very kind man and I've enjoyed conversations with him over the years and he's had housing off and on. He often tells me that he hopes he doesn't see me again as that would indicate he had housing or had moved on. He has no idea how much we hope for that, too.
Thank you all for the donations that support our work. Tonight a couple of people dropped off water and other things that we routinely need. We enjoy meeting donors and are happy to accept items while we're on the street.
The forecast is for milder weather but we don't believe we're out of the woods as far as the cold weather. Please check out the needs list and see what we're currently in need of.
Please keep the people we serve in your hearts, thoughts, and prayers.
Karen - Social Worker/Nurse