On average, we see 120 to 150 people seeking help each week. People come in for a wide variety of reasons. The majority of them are in need of food. Most will also ask for clothes or household goods. Some are hoping to find some furniture or a bike. About one third will inquire about financial help. There might be a one or two that are just happy to come in off the street, out of the weather, and perhaps get a bagged lunch.
We see people of all ages, from an occasional teen to those in their 90’s and all the ages in between. Some are married, some are widowed, some are separated, some are coming out of domestic violence situations, some were recently incarcerated, some are stranded hoping to get assistance to move on to another city. Most have dependents, some are just on their own. Many have health issues, particularly mental health issues that are not being addressed. (I’m not claiming to be a diagnostician, but some behaviors are obvious.)
Every day we see several homeless people. They have a wide range of living arrangements: some are fortunate enough to have secured a bed in a homeless shelter (we have four in the area); some are living in half way houses, hoping to overcome an addiction; some have temporary shelter on a couch or on the floor in someone’s home; some live in their vehicles; and some pitch a tent or set out a sleeping bag or a blanket in any spot they can find be it in a park or under a bridge or on a bench.
Most of the people we see are the working poor. They might have jobs, but don’t get enough working hours. Any of them doing outside work lose hours or days because of weather. CNA’s often lose their patients and are hoping for new assignments. Hotel and restaurant workers tend to have seasonal downtime. Some lose days of work for health issues. And for most, a day not worked equals a day not compensated – they don’t get paid sick days or vacation/holidays.
Bottom line, we are open to anyone that shows up at our door asking for help; we are willing to listen to their story and assess whether we can be of any help to them. Most times we’ll help with food and or material goods, sometimes we’ll give financial aid, and sometimes we might just give some advice or suggestions. Following Sister Isaac’s philosophy, our role is to try our best not to be judgmental and to listen with an open heart.
Special need of the week: Next Sunday is Share Sunday; consider bringing in a donation of non-perishable food when you come to mass next weekend.