Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Homeless Shelter A Month Later

I do a lot for the homeless. I am on the board of directors for Hope Alive, serving homeless woman and children in Frederick, Maryland. I have volunteered at the REACH Cold Weather Shelter in Hagerstown, Maryland and now I find myself volunteering at a cold weather shelter in Charles Town, West Virginia. I volunteered at the shelter for the first time about a month ago. That day was bitter cold, one of the coldest nights we had this winter, we are talking single digit cold which is cold.

Tonight was milder, but a transitional night. It was in the mid 40's when they opened the doors. The temperature did drop some as I walked through town to meet my wife for a ride home. It had turned cold enough to sleet and the weather had changed to rain and sleet. You might think temps in the 40's aren't cold. However, I felt a man's hand tonight which was plenty cold. I insisted he have a cup of coffee before dinner.

I was happy the number of people staying in the shelter had grown. Yes, it is sad so many  need to stay in a shelter but I was glad the shelter was able to help more. I was disheartened to find out the fates of some I had met a month ago. I won't go into details. I will just say many homeless folks face different demons. The demons can take the face of alcohol, drugs, illness, mental issues and legal issues.

Cold weather shelters offer a place of warmth. Shelter from a storm or shelter from the cold. A warm meal. A place off the streets. A place of fellowship with others in the same boat.

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