Chippewa Valley Street Ministry, September 16, 2018
I spent some time processing donations today and had time to reflect on the importance of you, our constant supporters and donors. As I sorted through the items, I was grateful for each pair of socks, the jeans, the t-shirts and other items that have been dropped off. Without your support and donations, we could not care for our friends in the manner we do.
As I left the storeroom and drove through town, my feeling of gratitude remained but the feeling of concern slowly entered as I saw many of the people we serve through the city. Some were laying on benches, some were sitting on ledges and other friends were walking. It was warm today but I recalled the forecast indicated that the temperatures will start dropping soon and the people I saw, and those that will come to visit us, will likely be in need of hoodies and coats before long. We are in need of hoodies, coats, backpacks and a few other things before it gets cold. The needs list will be sent, please help us keep our friends warm and dry as the summer ends and the cold months begin.
Pastor Mike, Brent, Barb and I recently discussed how things have changed on the street over the years. The phrase "life was simpler then" couldn't be more true! We have seen an increase in mental illness, addictions and impulsivity. We care for each person just as we always have but we don't always see the same people from time to time as we used to. The street ministry changes with the times and the needs of our friends. We are seeing an increase of people in need as the days go by and expect that when the colder months arrive, those numbers will only increase.
On a more positive note, the family that we received donations for the move-in deposit for is doing well. I went to visit them and they continue to share their gratitude for the assistance they received. As I mentioned a bit ago, we couldn't help our brothers and sisters in need without you. They report their only need at this time is a reasonably priced washer and dryer.
Here's a few of our dedicated volunteers: Sam, Barb, Chuck and Brent.
- Karen - Social worker, Street nurse
Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal - August 28, 2018
Out on the street tonight were Beth, Pastor Mike, Brent, Brian, Chuck, Barb, Marge, Michelle and myself. We served a large number of people … 67 or more! We brought 60 bags of food and ran out even with friends coming earlier that had declined the food and only wanted water. We continued to provide water and pastry snacks to those coming after the regular bags were gone.
We are puzzled by the amount of people we see, often we can estimate the number of people to plan for based on the season, time of the month, weather, etc. but currently there seems to be no definitive reason for the increase. For the last several weeks we have been averaging 50 visitors each night. We'll see a group of younger individuals out one night who are intending on staying at the shelter and the next night they're gone only to return a week or two later. We see people that we've cared for over the last several years attempt to stay at the shelter but cannot because someone new has arrived and will take that place in line for the next several months. Because of the increase in the population, we'll definitely benefit from donations off of the needs list.
We welcomed a visitor, Katie, from Western Dairy-land, who shared information with our friends about programs at that agency. Many had not known the information and we could see and feel the hope that they gained by learning about the programs and what may be possible for them. Hope is essential.
Barb and I encountered a family on Monday who were unaware that they could not stay at the co-ed adult shelter with their young children. The family re-appeared on Tuesday with news that they'd been accepted into the family shelter but could not get placed until Wednesday. We were not comfortable putting them in their car for the night with a 3 year old and 5 year old so Beth and I took them to a motel and the street ministry covered one night at a motel. I had spoken with staff at the shelter and confirmed that the family would be able to stay there.
We talked with a man that I mentioned many months ago that had lost his job and his vehicle had become irreparable. He had become despondent and we were concerned about his general well-being. Tonight he arrived standing straighter and looking brighter than we'd seen in a long time. He announced that he had a job AND a vehicle! I love hearing the good things and seeing the difference in a person. The feeling of being productive and useful is not one that we, or anyone, can just give out. He achieved it through his own efforts and we're proud of him for his continued tenacity.
We're coordinating care for another man that has multiple medical and mental health problems and is attempting to qualify or re-qualify for social security disability. He has experienced lots of challenges in his life and says that he's simply tired -- tired of the lifestyle, tired of trying to find a place to lay his head, tired of not taking care of his physical and mental health problems. He spoke with Katie for quite a long time, I hope he will qualify and find housing help before it gets cold.
With the large number of people we served, we didn't have as much one-to-one time as we often have so I don't have as many stories to share. I do know that the 67 people we did see were grateful for the care they received, much of it through donations provided by you. Thank you so much for your continued support and dedication.
Please continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in need of permanent shelter. Please also include the street ministry volunteers in your prayers for continued strength and safety while providing care to those we serve.
Sharing a couple of pictures of some little visitors, they bring a sense of hope and joy with each visit.
- Karen - Social Worker, Street Nurse