Chippewa Valley Memorial Day Street Journal May 28, 2018
The street ministry was out on Saturday, Sunday and Monday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend making sure our friends on the street were hydrated. The temperature was in the mid 90's during that time period and it was very humid. It was a strange mixture of people that we saw: there
were students walking around in their swimsuits carry inner-tubes and other floating devises headed down to the river and our friends in the homeless community doing whatever they could to stay cool, as well. Many of our friends gathered in the local parks and we also spent a little time trying to find some of our more reclusive friends in their hide-a-ways as well to make sure they had water, juice and chips to survive the weather. We handed out 7 cases of water over this long weekend and on Monday afternoon we brought 7 pizza's out to them to enjoy.
We often forget during this three day weekend that around 9 percent of our homeless friends, women and men are veterans and many of them casualties of war. PTSD is common among them and many prefer to just stay to themselves. Memorial day is also about these homeless vets and we made sure that the veterans who are often invisible to society were served first.
Mike - Street Pastor - Chippewa Valley Street Ministry
Chippewa Valley Street Journal, May 9, 2018
I was on the street with Pastor Mike, Barb, Brent, Jake, Chuck, Sam, and Lindsey. The evening was gray and rain threatened. Those coming to the shelter were hoping to get in before they got wet. Only a couple asked for umbrellas, which was good because we only have a few.
We recognized some faces but saw some new ones, too. I'm amazed at the number of young men staying at the shelter. Most are not very talkative, but are grateful to receive a bottle of water and some snacks. I'd like to know more about the circumstances that bring them to the street. Are they from the area? What happened that they're staying at the shelter?
A young woman asked for help and told a story of being from out of state headed across the country and being left by her boyfriend. Everyone has their own story and are in the situation they're in for various reasons. Some have made bad decisions, some have had things happen beyond their control. All are without permanent housing.
One of the women we've known for a while was approved for housing assistance and has a month to find an apartment. With housing in Eau Claire county being almost at capacity this may not be easy, even when the landlord is guaranteed to receive the rent. She has some health issues that are exacerbated by living on the street. Having stable housing would help not only her health, but her ability to continue her education, which she is diligently working on at CVTC.
When people ask what we do at Chippewa Valley Street Ministry, I tell them we're kind to people. We greet them, we ask about their day, we treat them with dignity and respect, no matter their circumstances. We appreciate the network of organizations who try to help, and we each fill some gaps. But there is so much more to do and we will need the entire community to make it happen.
Thank you for your support of the C.V.S.M.
Chippewa Valley Street Journal, May 9, 2018
I've been away from the street for a little more than a month and welcomed the opportunity to be out tonight. The people we serve and the volunteers we volunteer with are truly a family and I've missed all of them. I joined Chuck, Brent, Pastor Mike, Barb, Larry, Bre, Brian and Michelle. We enjoyed dry weather until the very last seconds when the threatening clouds began to sprinkle rain on us.
Before we had any visitors, I talked with Michelle and she updated me on a woman we've known for several years and have written about a number of times in our journals. Michelle shared that during a recent conversation with her, the woman had been crying and shared that she had tried so hard to simply survive over the winter and no one seemed to care. She told Michelle that she thought even God had forgotten about her. That statement made my heart sink, I have watched the woman's condition deteriorate over the last several months and had hoped that when I returned to the street that she may have had some positive changes in her life. The woman did not show up to visit with us, we can only hope and pray that she's okay.
I turned my attention to the happy news of a woman that has worked very hard to move forward on her journey without permanent shelter. She has obtained an apartment on her own and would be moving in soon. She works at least two jobs, is very giving and wants to support her fellow brothers and sisters. It is always so good to hear that someone has found housing, we wish her the very best.
The next woman I saw came with hopeful news, as well. She has been approved for housing and is in search of an apartment in her budget range. Her mobility is challenged and I think she must have persistent pain. I noted her ankles were quite edematous and she was unable to tie her shoes due to the swelling. While she struggles, she usually has a smile on her face and a pleasant greeting to give us.
We ended our evening on the street as the clouds began to darken and the threat of rain grew stronger. A woman we last saw several months ago appeared seemingly out of nowhere and was full of life as she spoke. She had gotten housing and wanted to share her news with us. She was concerned about the rain yet happy to tell us that she had windows to be concerned about, happy to have a choice of her own meals, happy to have her own bed. What struck me most was her statement that "God is good!" I silently compared her situation with that of the woman I mentioned early in my journal note. This woman may have questioned God's goodness at some point, as well, as she was without a home for many months. It breaks my heart that the other woman questions whether God has forgotten her, although in her situation I cannot say that I wouldn't wonder the same thing.
As we returned to our storeroom at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, we noticed a rainbow over all of Eau Claire. The darkness had cleared and left us with beautiful color. I can only hope that the people we care for carry their hope through their often dark journey. We, along with you and the support you give, will be with our friends every step of the way.
Thank you for your continued support! Please contact us with questions or comments, we enjoy hearing from you.
Karen - Street Nurse and Social Worker