Thursday, September 6, 2012

Changes to the "Face" of Homelessness

Staff stop for a quick meeting.
When I was first employed by the Mission in December of 2004, one of my fellow employees told me that the winter months were our "busy" months and summer was a slow time. In 2004, we had not yet expanded our women and children's shelter and the economy was doing well. However, over the past few years, a trend has developed where our services remain steady throughout the year and actually peak during the extreme cold and again in the late summer months. (The women and children's shelter especially sees increases in July and August.) For example, our public dining room served more lunches in July than any previous month and more lunches in August than in July. Unfortunately, while our actual services have increased and changed in the past seven years, the image of homelessness has not. Most people would assume that homelessness increases during the cold weather because the image of homelessness is a chronically homeless, aging, alcoholic male. Instead, the majority of those we shelter are women and children. And many of the men who stay at our shelter do not fit the stereotype either. The result of this change in the face of homelessness is that the Mission never really experiences a "slow time." Our resources are always being expended because there are always needs to meet. That is why we are so grateful for you, our fellow rescuers. So far this year, nearly 10,000 hours have been "given" by volunteers, and your monetary gifts help keep the lights on and the doors open to the nearly 150 women, children, and men we shelter every night. Your prayers, too, are so important in encouraging staff to continue to serve. Thank you for being what you are, compassionate rescuers! Thank you for helping us help others!

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