Five Reminders From This Cold Weather
January 18, 2018
With this most recent cold snap, five reminders come to mind for me.
- Cold weather is an opportunity to reach new people – Extreme weather often brings people in, who otherwise avoid shelter due to mental health or other challenges. On Monday night, we had an additional 140 “overflow” guests, more than a dozen of whom had never touched any part of our homeless services system before. We are starting to recognize this and can do more to use the opportunities to build relationships and connect to services.
- Homelessness does not solely belong to non-profits; it is a public issue – This weather, while uncomfortable for me, could be deadly for members of our community without shelter. Thanks to a commitment from County/City staff and the Red Cross, our community was able to open up a warming station for several days, when our shelter system could not manage the demand. We stood together to protect our most vulnerable neighbors.
- Charlotte-Mecklenburg is a caring place – I have personally witnessed numerous acts of generosity and care over the last two weeks. Whether donations of blankets and gloves, reaching out to people on the streets with resources, or congregations volunteering to shelter people, the community has shown an outpouring of care during this cold weather.
- I am inspired by those who do this work – The two weeks of hosting hundreds of additional people within the shelter has stretched our staff. And yet, each day I see passion and compassion. Everyone has pitched in, worked extra long hours, and rallied to offer shelter to all those seeking it.
- I am inspired by those journeying out of homelessness – Despite the magic of playing with my child in the snow, I really do not like cold weather. I am prone to complain. But, all it takes is to walk into the shelter for my bad mood to dissolve. It is not just the reminder to be grateful for the gifts of life, but it is the kindness and warmth our guests share – calling forth the best in them and in me.
Executive Director of Men’s Shelter of Charlotte