Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal March 30, 2020 - Thoughts and Reflections
Last night I began the Ministry's regular mid-evening safety check of the area. It was a cold, damp and windy evening. When I drove through the middle of downtown, I observed two people sleeping in a doorway. Their blankets were wet and neither person had anything to eat since midday. I didn't have any sleeping bags or blankets with me at the time, but by chance I was only a few blocks away from the Bolton Refuge House women's shelter. I immediately went there and asked the staff person on duty if it was possible to borrow some blankets for some of our friends in the street and after a short wait she brought out a half a dozen blankets and hygiene kits to help keep our friends in the street warm and clean. Thank-you Bolton! An hour later I discovered 3 other people walking the streets. They were under-dressed for the weather and so I was able to give them the remaining blankets. I then went off to find food to feed all our friends who were in need.
It's been at least a half a year since I have found people sleeping in downtown doorways, prior to that time it was a constant theme for years in the downtown area. There is a high rate of poverty in the county as well as the city and because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the poverty is only going to accelerate. More people are going to find themselves in the street.
One of the men I talked to last night said he has never been homeless before and has always been employed. He was now frightened and not sure what to do next and nervous about being to close to others as he navigated the streets.
Please remember all our homeless population, which includes those staying at Bolton Refuge Shelter for Women, Beacon House Family Shelter and the Sojourner House homeless shelter, in your thoughts and prayers.
Mike - street pastor CVSM
Two people sleeping in a doorway of a local organization. 3/29/2020
Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal - March 23, 2020
Last week on Monday as I was driving the van into the parking lot where I live, a woman approached me and asked if I would pray for her. I think she had seen our signage on the sides of the Ministry's van. She told me she owns her own home in town and has always been confident and content in her way of life. She stated she is now fearful and not sure where to turn or what to do next, everything in the city is shutting down and so she stays in her house and remains uncertain of the future. We had a long conversation and she said it felt better to be able to talk and express her fears. I told her to stay strong and I would be glad to talk to her anytime she felt anxious. I would keep her in my prayers and that prayer would also help her with her anxiety.
I am sure that many of us have similar feelings as we navigate the our day during this time of uncertainty. I hope all of you stay strong, safe and feel free to contact the Ministry at any time with your thoughts and concerns. Please keep our homeless friends and all God's children in your thoughts and prayers.
Mike - street pastor CVSM
The street ministry works collaboratively with many organizations in the area and have common goals to care for people in need. We received this letter and wanted to share it with you. If you know of anyone that would benefit from help from Bolton House, please do not hesitate to share their information.
Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal - March 17, 2020
We are hoping you're all safe and healthy. The threat of Covid-19 is around the world and precautions are being taken: events and schools are cancelled or postponed, travel plans are changed, restaurants are closing, store shelves are bare and concern and anxiety about the illness is prevalent. It seems everyone we talk with has been or will be affected by the precautions being taken.
We're concerned not only about the people we serve but others who live in poverty. The poor may lose more and struggle more with housing, food, and other basic necessities. We've spoken with servers at a local restaurant who were working their last shift today before closing the dining room and they were concerned about their basic needs being met. We also conversed with the restaurant owner who was hoping that her staff would not have to be laid off. The worry on her face could not be hidden by her smile.
We're anticipating that the street ministry will become a resource for many people who are not homeless. Our needs list will reflect that anticipation, please help us prepare to fill the many requests we have already received as well as those we will receive. Please note that there are changes on the needs list.
Many of the people we serve are very aware of the health concern. For now, there are no plans to close the agencies that directly provide care and/or meals to those in need. Screening measures are in place to protect the staff as well as the people served. The hours may be affected which leave the people with few places to go.
At the street ministry, after much thought and conversation we have decided to refrain from being on the street for a brief time and reassess for safety. When we do return, we'll have altered our practices to minimize contact with visitors and each other. Because we know the importance of simply being present, we want to be available if at all possible.
Finally, we're including an info-graphic that supports the practice of "social distancing" and visually explains the closings and cancellations of events:
Again, we hope that you, your family and your friends remain safe and healthy. Please keep the people living on the street and those housed but living in poverty in your thoughts and prayers.
Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal, March 10, 2020
Out on the street were Chuck, Cat, Brent, Larry, Iris, Pastor Mike, Mariah and myself. It was a busy night and I noted that at any given time, there were multiple conversations being held. I wasn't able to hear all of the discussions but I did hear occasional laughter and that is always heart-warming.
Iris and I spoke with a woman who has significant mobility issues and has dealt with her gait problem since childhood. While she moves steady, she's proud of her determination and ability to keep moving even with significant pain. She has a witty sense of humor and we're enjoying getting to know her.
One man talked about the challenges of getting employment, his struggles didn't include a lack of having a permanent address or transportation as I suspected. He said that when he carries everything he owns in a backpack or wears the same clothes day after day, employers tend to shy away form hiring him when appears to lack stability.
The general atmosphere on the street is that of gratitude for the winter cold departing and the warmer temperatures arriving. We'll begin transitioning to different clothing and warm weather items before too long. Please check out the needs list for our current needs and anticipated need.
We've talked about poverty a lot but its important to continue the conversation. Eau Claire County ranks high in the State's highest levels of poverty, we work on a daily basis with people who are struggling with poverty and its likely you know individuals and/or families living with the challenges of poverty. Sometimes its hard to explain poverty to someone who hasn't experienced it. Please watch the short but powerful video on this post:
Thank you for your interest and support of the street ministry. Please contact us with questions and keep the people we serve in your thoughts and prayers.
Karen - social worker/street nurse
Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal Alert - March 8, 2020
There's little chance that you haven't heard about the dangers of the coronavirus that as affected thousands around the world. The street ministry would like to do our part in the sharing of information for you to use to keep you and your loved ones safe. We are sharing the following information with you, it includes a graphic from the Eau Claire City/County Health Dept as well as as a letter from the director of the department, Elizabeth (Lieske) Giese. Let's work together to keep one another safe.
If you are in the Eau Claire area and have questions or concerns, please contact the Eau Claire Health Dept or your local health provider. If you are outside of the Eau Claire area and have questions or concerns, please contact your local health department or primary care provider.
Stay safe, stay healthy!