Random thoughts and comments
It has been difficult for us at the street ministry to witness the continued suffering of our homeless brothers and sisters over these past 8-1/2 years. The homeless population has grown substantially since we began this ministry close to a decade ago. Winter is the worst time of year to try and survive on the street and also the most dangerous. We have lost people over the past several winters due to weather related incidents. And now, since the beginning of the Pandemic, the dangers our homeless friends have to face are greatly intensified.
Since the beginning of the year, we have worked to educate our homeless population in the street about the pandemic. We continue to issue masks and keep the people current on important updated information. We also stay in touch with the shelter staff as to what we were seeing in the street and share information between our organizations. Things were going relatively well throughout the year as far as the health of the homeless population until recent weeks. More than three dozen of our homeless population tested positive and half of the shelter staff were in quarantine at one time or another. The shelter then went on lock down and that left no access for our people on the street to find shelter. Had it not been for the early intervention of our local health department, giving flu shots and consistently testing for Covid at the shelter, this tragic incident would have been much worse.
We live in a society where we are consistently looking for heroes, someone to emulate. Oftentimes people find them in sports and entertainment figures, even politicians. But in the year of 2020, there has been an abundance of people and groups that come to mind. I often think of the servers in restaurants that put themselves at risk working for a base pay of $2.35 cents an hour plus tips trying to just make a living in the year of the pandemic. Then there are the young people that are the staff at our local homeless shelter seemingly invisible to those on the outside, working to care for those citizens our society often rejects by working long hours and being dedicated to their fellow human beings. These people, to me, are heroes that are often overlooked; they are the glue that that keeps our society together and moving forward.
Please keep our homeless friends, the working poor and those who make up the shelter staff in your thoughts and prayers.
Mike – Street Pastor - CVSM
Set up and ready to serve! We provide water, Gatorade, a hot meal and a small pack of food to help with hunger between meals.
Another rainy and chilly evening looking towards downtown.
Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal, October 10/17/2020 to 11/14/2020
In the last month, we've experienced several changes in the weather, it's hard to know what to expect next! We've had cold and rainy weather that was chilling to be out in and the following week we were back in t-shirts and shedding jackets. Next, we had snow and when we were out last night we were back in the drizzle and wind. Today the wind is gusting and the snowflakes are falling. While this may be more seasonal and expected, that knowledge does not make living and sleeping outdoors for our friends on the street any more manageable.
As Covid-19 continues to flare up in our community, so do the tensions out on the street. We're seeing an increase of mental health symptoms in a population that already has instability. There have been angry outbursts and the safety of everyone involved has been jeopardized more than once. We talked with some people who describe a competition for sleeping spaces and having to shuffle from one site to another in order to find a place where they can get periods of sleep. While typically we hear that people look out for another, with the shortage of sleeping space, this is not always the case.
One evening we encountered a few people who expressed concern of a woman sleeping under a piece of cardboard. We've learned through experience that waking a person without knowing their story can result in unexpected reactions. This time, because of what the other people shared with us, we decided to call the non-emergency police number and ask for a little help in assessing the person's needs. We met with a police officer who did wake the person and felt that they did not meet the criteria for any other services. We had a good conversation with the officer and discussed city policies as well as how we could work together with the common goal of caring for this population.
We have continued to provide one hot meal per day since Covid-19 started and the shelter relocated. This has been a time commitment and financial commitment in order to ensure meals. We appreciate your donations and are in need of continued contributions in order to maintain these meals.
A person using cardboard for protection from the elements.
Bringing a little fun on Halloween. Holidays come and go for people living on the street,
we try and incorporate these days to the people we serve in some manner.
Thank you, as always, for your support, donations and prayers. We absolutely could not do our work without you.
Be safe, be well and blessings to everyone!
Karen - Social worker/Street nurse