Frozen Outreach....

This is a visual diary of our week of outreach, going out into frigid Chicago weather; right here in Uptown.....

Temperatures dropped drastically, some snow fell and a few of us ventured outside to try and help those who are experiencing homelessness. We see this as a crucial and vital part of our ministry, because there are so many people "sleeping rough" and living in shelters in Uptown, and such extreme weather changes can result in frostbite, hypothermia and even death. 

Here's my visual diary of our adventures....

It started on Sunday night, Sandy and I hopped in the van and drove around to various locations in Uptown and Edgewater; we went out to find people, offer asistance and bring them in, out of the cold....
This is one of the parks I searched in Edgewater. Down this long path, there are often people camped out. I know of one guy who recently lost one of his feet and all 5 toes of his other foot, due to frostbite. It happened in this location and in warmer weather. Thankfully, on this frigid night, no one was down there.

Here I am speaking and offering services to one of the guys under an Uptown viaduct. He didn't want to come in, but we continue to offer what we can, so he can eventually get housed. This guy is a survivor; he stayed out all last winter and knows what to do to survive in such horrible weather.
At another Uptown viaduct; we found King, who was more than willing to come with us. His hands were wet and frozen; a perfect recipe for getting frostbite.
Here he is, getting his belongings. The next day, he thanked us profusely and showed me his glossy fingers. He knew he was getting frostbite and wondered if he would have survived the night. He kept saying "thank you; you saved my life."

We have a number of different programs at CCO; they can all remain inside 24 hours a day except for one program, our Interim Shelter for Single Men. Every evening, these men need to walk about a mile from CCO to where they sleep at Epworth United Methodist Church for the night, and in the morning they return back to CCO for meals, casework and other necessities! It's a nice walk in on a pleasant night, but in frigid temperatures and blasting wind chills, it can be deathly. We also have to remember, many of these guys are senior citizens, while a few others have major health concerns. 

So what was our response? a few of us (Beth, Sandy, Chris, Stewart and myself) doubled up and took turns in filling up and driving this 15 passenger maxi-van to and from Epworth Church. The men really appreciated it....
Here we are at Epworth United Methodist Church; everyone is getting out the van and heading inside.
This is a photo of the second group of guys lining up and getting into the maxi-van at CCO.

As a "warming center", we gave people a safe place to rest their weary bones, a hot shower and warm blankets to lay under. During this particular week many wonderful donations came in; we were blessed with 60 brand new cots, 100 new blankets and over a hundred comforters. These items, along with the "New Life for Old Bags" mats, food, coats, hygiene products, socks, clothing and many other things that have come through our doors, serve to help these men and all the other residents who stay at CCO. All these items are blessings, and they truly help people living in unfortunate circumstances find a little more comfort and get the assistance they need. 

Nothing like getting out of the cold, having a hot shower and getting some new clean clothes. King was in danger of frostbite and hypothermia, now he's able to relax and read his book in warmth and comfort.

Some of the new cots we received this week. What an amazing blessing!


Another view of the cots, a NLOB mat and people being able to lay down to get a good night's sleep. It may not be perfect, but it's better than sleeping on the trains or outside in freezing temperatures.
another view of the warming center!

We're happy to say: Not only did people move from the outside to inside, we had a couple men successfully move from their homeless situations and into their own apartments. This is always a blessing to see, and it is always an honor to be part of these journeys....

Wendell holding his keys to his new apartment!
Robert, a Vietnam Veteran, holding his new keys. We were also able to bless him with a very nice TV, that had just come in on donation.

Well, that was my week, it was busy, chaotic and hectic, but it was also enjoyable and a privilege to be a part of all this. These men are troopers, they humble me, because in even the harshest of circumstances, their faith and hope is so strong. They teach me so much, the love and grace of God, truly rests upon them....

Let us not forget these words, found in Isaiah 42:3
"He won't brush aside the bruised and the hurt
and He won't disregard the small and insignificant,
but He'll steadily and firmly set things right"
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