The Winter Warming Shelter has closed with both joy and sadness. We are sad to see our friends go back out into the neighborhood, not quite sure where they will be able to lay their heads but joyous that we were able to share God’s love and healing in such a tangible way. It will take a bit of time to organize the data and gather the stats but you can be sure that lives were saved. I know!! It seems like hyperbole, but the number of ambulance trips to take people for emergency medical attention is testimony to the number of people who might have had a much different outcome if they had been alone outside in the cold when the crises occurred. (Homelessness IS a health crisis. More about that another time.) We are proud to say our guests only experienced one case of Covid, caught elsewhere, discovered early, and isolated off-site without spread to other members of our community. I say we are proud of this because our staff was very diligent in sanitizing and enforcing the use of masks and hand hygiene to achieve that good result. The greatest joy is the number of guests who were willing to accept help to connect with needed health and mental healthcare services. We also have sheltered three who, because of their personal vulnerabilities, have moved or will move shortly into permanent supported housing, providing support for apartments of their own with wrap-around services. But there is more. In providing a Winter Warming Shelter, we hosted a program that provided three months of gainful employment for ten talented men and women who had lost their jobs because of the pandemic. In the end, some said it was the best job they had ever had. Although a few had prior experience, most had eyes opened to the realities of poverty and the true joy of making a significant difference in the lives of those in the midst of that trauma. I believe, most important are the relationships formed, causing people to vow to stay in touch with each other across traditional social divides, determined to never forget the experience. It was quite a remarkable example of God’s presence here!! Thank you for the opportunity to serve.
With joy and gratitude, Rev. Carolyn
(Photos from a closing party organized by Shelter Staff to thank the guests for the shared experience.)