I'm sitting in my not so warm house, grateful for a roof over my head.
Charles and I spent the day conducting intake interviews at the third annual Project Homeless Connect event, which brings poor folks together with service providers (social services, housing, substance abuse counseling, mental health and medical health providers and a myriad of others).
I interviewed about 30 folks and Charles interviewed about 20. Some were elderly, some were young folks with kids, a lot were veterans, some were mentally ill, some were disabled, and more than a few were inebriated. Almost all of them were either homeless or soon to be.
The event offered them, in addition to the services provided, a warm dry place to be for the day, with nonstop hot coffee, fruit, baked goods for breakfast, a hot meal at noon (cooked by the Glory Hole, a local homeless shelter), and a large number of volunteers to chat with.
Charles did some spiritual counseling as well as interviewing.
The Juneau Homeless Coalition did a great job with this event, designed to not only pair up the homeless with needed services, but to find out how many there are out there for funding purposes.
We woke up today to extremely cold temperatures and high winds. The temperature right now (5:31 p.m.) is 6 degrees F. The wind is howling, which means the wind chill is probably about 20 below zero.
So right now, in Juneau and Douglas, there are folks outside, huddling, trying to get out of the wind. People, some with kids, crashing in someone's living room until they are asked to move on by friends or family members, mentally ill folks who are so difficult, scary or unpredictable or alcoholics so drunk that they are not allowed to be in the available shelters to ensure the safety of the other patrons. The shelters are packed to capacity, including the family emergency shelter.
And it is 6, six, SIX degrees outside, and with the wind, it feels like 20 below.
|Photo courtesy of Lou Ann Gagne|