I hope everyone is now with power and getting their way back to warmth, water service, and some sense of “normal.” Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help or support with anything. I would like to thank our U2C3 folks who have been heroes during this week’s cold crisis. First, many thanks to Christy Stockman, who volunteered to check in with all our members and friends via text. Here is Christy’s report on her efforts:
Isn’t modern technology wonderful!? With just a few hours of work, I was able to contact via text every household in the church directory that we have a cell phone number for (that’s over 70!) on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. We had a tremendous response rate even though the vast majority of our church folks had lost power. There were a number of households that were also without water and many broken pipes, but we are also a resourceful bunch. One guy was so prepared he had not only a generator but also a 150-gallon rain barrel filled and ready to be used! I found out lots of church folks had stepped up too. For example, some families with power sheltering those without, taking groceries, or even a space heater to those in need. I also received 4 more offers of help (some offering spare rooms in their home) and, although no one requested assistance, it was very gratifying to know our whole congregation is a Beloved Community, indeed!
Many thanks as well to Jan and Dave Bartlett, who provided a congregant with a space heater, and to Karen Wilson who jumped to the rescue to turn off a congregant’s water after a pipe burst. I put out a call for help in our U2C3 Facebook Group, and it came within minutes! I’ve heard numerous stories of congregants with power sheltering those without, as well as buying and donating items to support our activities helping our homeless neighbors. Many thanks to all who helped or offered to help!
Late last week, I was able to help Angela Leach, our homeless advocate extraordinaire, get in contact with the dog fostering group I work with to help transport and shelter dogs of homeless people who wanted to go to the emergency shelter that does not accommodate pets. Furever United Rescue soon used its local contacts to convince the Gulf Coast Humane Society to shelter these pets during the cold weather. The Humane Society provided a pet pick-up service at the emergency shelter and is providing delivery of the animals back to the emergency shelter to be united with their owners.
Saturday and Sunday, I was with Angela and Eli at a homeless encampment handing out food and supplies, as well as telling dog owners about the new emergency dog shelter and giving away dog food provided by Furever United Rescue. When we caravanned out to the emergency shelter at the American Bank Center, we found that the check-in process was highly policed, confrontational, and witnessed homeless folks entering the shelter being traumatized. I talked with the Operations Manager about making the process more kind, gentle, and humane. I informed Father Bruce Wilson, a homeless advocate who was coming to the shelter later for a volunteer shift, of some of the deficiencies, and I heard that some improvements took place – including coaching of security officers and moving police to a more low- profile location in the building. There is so much more work to do in promoting the humanity and worth and dignity of our homeless neighbors.
When I sheltered at a friend’s small apartment with my two dogs and two foster puppies after I lost power and had a pipe burst, I tried to remember how much better I still had it than the people at the homeless encampment and the emergency shelter. As angry and inconvenienced as I felt, I tried to remember there were those who were suffering these difficulties every single day while living on the streets. On a lighter note, I will be paying for carpet cleaning at my friend’s apartment. Thanks, U2C3 for all the care you’ve shown one another.