Cold Weather Survival

By Dr. Chad Audi

In many parts of the country, like here in Detroit, snow has started to fall. The extended weather forecast calls for temperatures hovering around the freezing mark. It is December, so we expect as much. But while many of us can dial up the heat in our homes or start a fire in the fireplace to keep warm, there are hundreds of thousands of people across the U.S. who dread this time of the year. They are homeless men, women and children who are living on the cold streets.

This is the busiest time of the year for the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) and other agencies like ours. Not only because of the cold weather that drives the homeless to look for shelter and a warm meal, but also because of the holiday season. Everyone deserves to experience the joys of the holidays with good food, gifts and warm gatherings.

A recent newspaper story in Detroit focused on a college student who has designed and created three prototypes of a combination coat and bed roll made of Tyvek HomeWrap insulation and flexible, synthetic fleece. The student’s hope is that the coat will save thousands of homeless people’s lives by protecting them from dangerous, cold temperatures. Interesting? Yes. While certainly no one wants to encourage the homeless to stay on the streets, we do realize there are some people who do not want to come to shelters and abide by the human services organization’s rules.

However, these days, the number of people seeking shelter from the cold is rising. All it takes is the loss of a job or a home to send a person’s life into a tailspin. Or perhaps a tragedy, such as a home that has burned to the ground. And sometimes it’s because of an alcohol or drug addiction that hasn’t been treated.

Whatever the circumstances that lead to homelessness, it can be difficult to find a bed in shelters during this time of the year, because many places are overcrowded. At DRMM, we don’t turn anyone away. But it’s difficult when you don’t have the space and resources to service everyone who needs help. Keep these agencies and the homeless in your prayers and thoughts as we go through the winter season.

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