Stories from the Basement

Stories from the Basement: February 2014

By Donna Clark RN, Director

The Cold Weather shelter is in full swing and we are sheltering between 40 and 55 men each night. Most weeks it is a different church and the shift happens every Saturday morning. Cots have to be broken down, bedding bagged and labeled, and then everything gets loaded onto trucks and moved, unpacked and set up at the next church. The collaborative efforts of the members of each church are amazing. Once the men are settled in the new church site the volunteers then begin to welcome them with loving arms. Food is prepared with care and pride. Each year I watch as the men put on 5 pounds over the three month span.

At this point in the cycle many of the men are feeling a little entitled and expect more than the program is set up to provide. Some of the men are very grateful for anything and others complain almost ceaselessly. These are the unhappy ones or the ones looking for attention. I find this time of year a great chance to connect with the men and find those who are in need of health care. We have had an opportunity to reach 5 men with high blood pressure, one who was having a heart attack, prevented another from have a stroke. Several have gotten into mental health care who had previously been lost in their own worlds. Many of the men just spend three months feeling like they are someone that others care for. I had one of the guests tell me he looks forward to this shelter project each year because it is the only time in his life he feels loved. He stated that he gets fed like he is a member of the family and there are people who pray for him. My response to him was he is loved every day of his life whether he feels it or not. The Community Emergency Shelter Project does more than just provide shelter and food. It is a chance to witness God’s love to the marginalized in our community.

Thank you to all who volunteer their time and efforts in this life saving program. God bless you.