Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal, July 26, 2020
The street ministry continues to be busy providing care to those in our community who are in need. The number of people is growing and we expect that will continue indefinitely. There is, like always, no discrimination on who ends up on the street: male, female, recently unemployed, elderly, working poor, those with mental health problems, substance abuse and so on.
With the weather being hot, we’re concerned about the safety of our friends living in the elements; living in the summer heat brings challenges just as living on the street in the winter. One of our concerns is that of hydration: due to Covid-19, the water fountains at local parks will not be turned on. The restrooms are locked during the night and access to water is limited. We provide water and Gatorade when we’re out and remind our friends of the importance of hydration. Today, when we were out, we heard from several people say they were thirsty and they quickly drank 2,3 or 4 bottles of water. They are probably in need of much more than that. There are few options for them to fill empty bottles with the fountains being inoperable.
We feed people a hot meal daily, typically around a dozen but occasionally up to 18-20. There is a man who works that is frequently hungry despite eating at the local community table. He is employed and due to the physical nature of his work, he needs extra food to get him through his shift. Another man we serve works during the day and misses the community meal and so usually has nothing to eat when he gets off work. One man that we fed had sunburn on his lower legs to the point that it hurt to walk. He graciously ate the food we brought him and then started his walk to where he sleeps. We serve daily at an average cost of around $50, but of course the more we feed, the higher the cost.
It was hot and very humid today. Due to the pandemic there are few options for people to go and get out of the heat to sit and relax for a while. There is an option of sun or shade, neither which provides relief from the thick, wet air. Several of the people we served were wearing sweat-soaked clothing, we handed out dry shirts to those who wanted one for now or another time. For those who sleep outside, they reported not getting good sleep because of the heavy air along with the usual concerns of safety, discomfort and concern of law enforcement.
As noted in previous journals, we’ve been assisting the shelters with clothing requests from their guests. So far, we’ve filled over 60 requests! Often the requests are simply for a pair of jeans, other times the requests are for underwear, pants, t-shirts, a backpack and hygiene supplies. One request that we’ve been seeing more frequently is for paper and pen/pencil. Our supply is nearly out so this and other needs will be reflected on our needs list.
We’re all experiencing the pandemic in one way or another, whether it be working from home or wearing a mask or changing how we meet with one another. The people we serve have the same challenges but have additional struggles that they contend with, as well. The number of people we see is steadily growing and it is of great concern. Please keep our homeless friends in your thoughts and prayers. We sincerely hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. Take precautions, be safe.