Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal - September 18, 2022
As usual, we have much to share during our times on the street. Here are recent notes:
There continues to be a challenge for the people we work with to find bathrooms during the day. This has been a problem for several years, especially with the pandemic affecting locations where people had been used to using. In addition to a shortage of bathrooms, there is a limited supply of water. Street ministry volunteers provide water each day to reduce the chance of dehydration but we have no ability to increase the availability of bathrooms.
One woman that recently came to see us had measurable swelling in both lower legs. She had trouble walking but did not have a cane or walker. Another man who we've worked with for a number of years assisted her across the street to ensure she made it to the shelter safely. She appreciated the help; he appreciated being able to provide the care.
We want to give a shout-out to the bus drivers in the city: one of our frequent visitors has said that that he thought bus drivers are real heroes. He said "if it wasn't for bus drivers, we would not have survived last winter and probably wouldn't be around today." He is a veteran with permanent injuries; he has seen his share of danger in the world. If he sees the bus drivers as heroes, that is impactful.
One evening when we were providing shoes for an individual, I suspected the man may have been under the influence as his gait was off and his balance was very unsteady. I was concerned about safety and found out later that he wasn't under the influence at all but rather is experiencing vertigo. Those who've had it will likely remember it clearly and empathize with the man. If you haven't had it or don't know what vertigo is, it is a sensation that causes a person to feel that they are spinning or moving when they are not. It creates balance and movement challenges: for someone homeless, there are few places to just sit and try to manage the symptoms. I felt terrible about making that assumption and was reminded of the saying to not judge a book by a cover. We learned that he does have medication to help with the dizziness but he had said that the medicine didn't help enough.
There are a couple of people that have asked where they can sleep if they work nights and there is not a good answer for them. Typically, night shift workers earn more than day shift staff and the extra pay is an incentive for some people. The problem is that there is nowhere to sleep when they are done with their shift. They can catch some naps here and there in parks but that isn't a restorative sleep. It is hard to work with shortened or interrupted sleep. Safety is compromised as is work quality when someone is fatigued. The other challenge to working nights is food -- if someone manages to sleep, they may miss meals provided at the shelter and/or local table. We have been told that the food in the bags we provide each night was going to be saved for meals for the next day.
September is more than half-way over. We've started giving out hoodies as the evenings get cool, there are more requests for blankets and sleeping bags. We will begin shifting out our summer wear for winter wear in the next 2 months, if not sooner. The cold winter nights will be here before we know it. Various predictions have suggested that the upcoming winter will be harsh with both the cold and precipitation. We need to be prepared with supplies to keep our brothers and sisters safe. If you have any extra hoodies or other warm items that you would like to donate, please contact us.
A scene from a few years ago. The snowy weather will be here before we know it.
We've been told that the shelter is serving guests at full capacity and some people are having to stay elsewhere. The current weather has not been too problematic but considering, as just noted, that September is over half over, the cold nights are not safe for those we serve to sleep in. Where will they go at night? This has been a question that has been asked each winter and must be brought up again. We cannot forget that there are people that are having to find shelter from the elements.
A scene at the local shelter.
Thank you for your interest and support, without you we could not provide the services that we do. Please keep our brothers and sisters living without permanent shelter in your thoughts and prayers.
- CVSM Staff