This morning I turned on the weather report to see just how frigid it was going to be today. It has warmed from last night - the temperature is now 5 degrees - a minus 4 windchill. A brutally cold day. Plus, the roads and sidewalks are now made dangerous from the snow that has turned to ice and salt cannot be used until the temperature is above 30 degrees as it won't work to melt the ice. So it is sand for now - if anything is used.
The forecaster also had a report on the Salvation Army homeless shelter. There are 100 on their waiting list.
Men, women and children. The other shelters are also filled. God knows the actual waiting list. Where are all these people keeping warm!? Where are they finding food!?
What I learned through my Jim (who is DD and now lives in a temporary adult home and was homeless at different times over the years while trying to survive on his own) is that most people do not know:
- If a homeless shelter is full, you must be turned away - no matter the weather. Yes, there ARE waiting lists for shelter for the homeless - no matter the circumstances. Yes, people ARE turned away. You come too late - you are out of luck.
- You can only stay in a homeless shelter for so many nights and when that quota is spent, you again have no place to sleep and must try to find another location. If you can't - you are out of luck, you try again the next day.
- The homeless shelter is only open and available for the nightime hours - usually you can come in at 8:00 pm at night and must leave again at 8:00 am - hopefully with breakfast. It may be the only food that you eat that day.
That means that in the winter some place to keep warm must be found for the daytime hours - where can you use the bathroom, where can you find food, what to do and where to go for the next 12 hours until you can once again lay down and rest - IF you have shelter for the night.
- The shelters may not be safe. The shelters may just be rows upon rows of cots. The shelters may not offer food. You may be able to rest, but unable to sleep.
With no money for bus fare, you must walk - you cannot use pay phones to call anyone - from inquiring about a job listing (nor can you be called) to a friend or connection who might give a ride, food, etc. You cannot wash/dry you clothing when they become soiled. No money to buy clothing/boots to keep warm. No belongings except what you can carry - there is no such thing as money for storage of belongings.
No bathrooms available to shower, shave, fix your hair, brush your teeth. No doctors if you feel ill, you just keep moving. No dentists if you have a toothache or have no dentures, you just keep moving. The list goes on and on.
Tomorrow it may get to 30 degrees. By Tuesday of next week it will again be those brutually cold temperatures. And how many of those 100 homeless on the waiting list will have found shelter? How many more will have been added?
These are men, women and children who have nowhere to go.
I have a place to stay, food to eat, a car to drive. My sons are all safe and warm. I may have to shovel some snow but I have an apartment that all I have to do is open a door to return to. I have water, I have food, I have warm clothing. I have my prescriptions and a doctor's care. God bless and watch over the homeless - who don't.