Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal - July 14, 2022
It is hard to believe that it is already mid-July, where did the time go?! We continue to be busy supporting our unhoused neighbors and trying to provide a source of safety for them.
As usual, we have much to talk about and concerns to bring up regarding the people we serve. Currently, one of our main concerns is the sun and heat and the risks the hot weather brings. For many of us, this weather brings fun and activities that can only be done when the lakes and rivers are thawed and the soil is fertile. For people living outdoors or spending a large amount of time outdoors, this weather is just as dangerous as the dead of winter. Shelter from the direct sun is somewhat available but to get out of the heat, shelter becomes more challenging.
People taking certain medications are at risk of heat injury, as well, as their temperature regulation is affected by the medication. If they are unable to control their body temperature, they may overheat and sustain heat injuries.
Drinking water is not plentiful for those with little to no money. We've been providing water and Gatorade while we're on the street and offer as much water as a person wants. Our volunteers have been dropping water off in-between our regular visits to shelters and areas where the homeless tend to gather. The street ministry has provided thousands of bottles of water to people in need. If someone is dehydrated, they aren't necessarily able to perspire to regulate body temperature. Their body heat rises and increases the change of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. We encourage water consumption to avoid worsening symptoms. We provide salty snacks as well -- this replaces salt lost in perspiration as well as provides food and calories that may not be gotten elsewhere.
We've seen several people with sunburns ranging from redness and soreness to blistering and painful skin. One gentleman had blisters on his lower extremities and reported that walking was painful. Often our friends are fatigued. Occasionally they seem confused and not likely to make good decisions. We've been able to provide sunscreen to some people.
Try and imagine what that would be like to be homeless in the summer: carrying what you own in a backpack that weighs heavily on your hot back, not having easily accessible water, not having the options of putting on a pair of shorts or sandals and might be in jeans or heavy shoes, being fatigued and/or dehydrated and generally not feeling well. Maybe you're sunburned and in pain but other than the shade of a tree in the park, there's nowhere to go. You walk from place to place all day long, just existing.
The good news is that there is a cooling shelter that opens on Sundays. It's a start; we hope the momentum to provide services will continue. The fact is that people's lives are at risk and they have few options to provide their own safety.
Check out our needs list, we are most in need of 1-2 person tents and large backpacks. Please consider a donation, if you are able, and as always, thank you for your interest and support.