Winter is making history. Record-breaking snow and subzero temperatures and wind chills are affecting much of the country, including the South.
All of us who have been caught in the grip of the wintry weather know how uncomfortable the biting cold feels. Your fingers and toes can begin to freeze in a matter of minutes. Most of us are able to retreat into a heated house and warm up before the onset of frostbite or hypothermia. But for those with nowhere to live, these wintry conditions are extremely dangerous and can be life threatening. Imagine the plight of our nation’s homeless. It’s unimaginable to think of living outside and sleeping in this weather, isn’t it?
Organizations like ours — the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) — give the homeless refuge from the snow and subzero temperatures. We do not turn anyone anyway at DRMM. The beds in our emergency shelters have been filled to capacity several times already this winter. So we provide chairs and place mattresses on the floor to accommodate the overflow. Just being in warm surroundings and eating a hot meal make a world of a difference to the homeless.
During this cold weather, we keep our doors open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We also allow our homeless clients to remain in our emergency shelters for a longer period if the temperature is below 32 degrees. We also use this as an opportunity to extend additional help to those who have come to our door. Our case managers talk with our clients and try to determine the root cause of their homelessness. We offer them a chance to get medical treatment, counseling and transitional housing.
Unfortunately, the chronic homeless usually don’t take advantage of our assistance. However, we remain hopeful and inspired by the many lives that we are able to save and transform.
As you sit in your warm house looking out of the window at the snow and listening to the howling winds, remember those who are trying to brave the elements. Support your local shelters with donations such as coats, blankets, food, and money so that we can help the homeless survive this extremely harsh winter.