Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal - November 24, 2017
It's the end of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I hope you were able to be with family or friends and give thanks for blessings. As November ends and December begins, the holiday scurrying also begins. Holidays are often difficult for the people we serve, they tend to feel even more invisible. We can't "fix" those feelings but we can certainly be of support and remind them of their value and importance to us. Please keep them in your thoughts.
I was fortunate enough to visit the street both Tuesday and Friday, we had about 40-45 visitors each night. I was somewhat surprised how many people on Friday were new to me and wondered where many of those we served on Tuesday were on a drizzly night like Friday .
We encountered an older woman who uses a wheeled cart as a walker. She had needed some boots and wanted to try on what we had before taking them with her. We have a chair with us in the van so we retrieved that for her to sit on. In the end, she felt that it was easier to be standing and simply slip one shoe off and then slipping on the boot. There were four of us trying to help -- Wendy, Cindy, and Barb helped her with balance while I was on the ground guiding her foot into the boots. The zipper on the boot was broken so she opted to have us bring other boots at our next visit rather than use those. We had some good laughs with her as she informed us that she had put clean socks on that day so we wouldn't have to touch dirty socks. She was in good spirits when she left and is hopeful we'll have boots for her on Tuesday. We are very concerned about the older people we see, especially those with mobility problems who become even more vulnerable when they focus on walkers or wheelchairs or, as in this instance, a cart.
I visited with a man that talked about his history as a U.S. Marine. He asked for an item, I don't remember what it was, and began apologizing for being in need. He talked about disliking needing help and was teary when receiving the item. While I reassured him that our role was not to judge but rather to comfort him in his need, he maintained his fierce pride and continued to apologize. I respect his acknowledgement of the difficulty of asking for help; knowing that he struggles with that will help us to anticipate some possible needs in the future. Asking for help is difficult, accepting the help is sometimes just as hard.
-Karen - Social Worker, Street Nurse
Chippewa Valley Street Ministry, November 14, 2017
Its been several weeks since I've been out on the street with my street ministry family: the other volunteers as well as the people we serve. As I stood in the chilly and damp weather, my heart was warmed as I watched the interaction between all of the people there. I truly had missed the people and being out there. I am very happy to be healed and back in service, its where I belong.
There were plenty of smiles, laughs and hugs as well as listening ears and suggestions of where our friends could seek help in the community. We had a new volunteer, Josh, with us tonight and he commented how he could see the importance of our time of "just listening" to our visitors. As we've said before, we're a ministry of presence -- we don't have always have answers and we may not say the right thing (in fact, we might not say anything at all) but rather "just listen".
The first person I visited with was a woman that had been in need of permanent shelter early in the summer. She'd experienced some medical complications and after a hospitalization she was transferred to a rehab center until housing was found where she could manage her health challenges. It was wonderful to see her: she is full of life and pridefully shared that she is giving back to everyone that she can. She said that for the first time in her adult life, she feels content and not in need of anything. She shared that she has been blessed with enough to prepare a thanksgiving meal that she intends on sharing with many people in her apartment building.
A man that I'd worked with over the summer months to find housing arrived to share that since our last visit many weeks ago, he had secured housing and was planning to move in soon. He appeared much less stressed and laughed a lot more. He was anxious to move in so he could focus on his health and take better care of himself.
The father of the children that we're working with that recently found housing came for a visit. I asked him how he was and what we could do for him. He said that he'd come just to say thank you to us and he gave us a hug.
I met a few new people but mostly I observed the interactions and listened to conversations. What we do makes a difference and we couldn't do our work without you. I'm so grateful to be a part of this team effort, thank you!
-Karen, Social Worker, Nurse
A Pair of Flip Flops
A visit to the streets with Chippewa Valley Street Ministry, one of Feed My People's partner programs, reminded me how our community is making a difference together.
As I talked with a woman staying at Bolton Refuge House who had the strength to leave an abusive partner, another woman came
over to the van barefoot. The woman's feet were a size 5; much smaller than any of the shoes that we had that night. As volunteers rummaged through the van to look for a pair that might fit, the woman staying at Bolton reached into her bag. "Here you can have these," she said pulling out a pair of flip flops.
With nothing but a backpack full of belongings, this woman's gracious gift touched my heart. Since winter was quickly approaching, volunteers with Chippewa Valley Street Ministry took down the woman's name so they could bring tennis shoes but for now the flip flops would give her some relief.
I realized the van was filled with a variety of things community members and organizations had contributed to try to meet the basic needs. Each giving of what they could to make a difference together. I felt proud of the food resources in the van, the piece that was contributed by Feed My People and our generous supporters.
With your continued support, we work each day to provide food resources and meet the basic needs of low-income children, families and seniors. Whether you are a volunteer, donor, agency partner or community supporter you are a valued and irreplaceable part of our team.
-Becca Baader, FMP's Communications Specialist