The cold weather is here which means that many of our friends who are un-housed and sleep outdoors are even more vulnerable to exposure related illnesses and tragedies. For many of our friends, being outdoors when the temperature drops is a matter of life and death. Last year in Nashville, three homeless individuals froze to death and one fell into his fire and died, and that is a devastating indictment to us and to our faith groups. For the last two years, we have partnered with other outreach and faith-based groups in Nashville to do emergency shelters when the temperature drops to the low-mid teens at night. We focus on helping our friends in encampments get to a safe, warm place, and we also drive around the city to engage people who are staying out on the streets.
While the Nashville Rescue Mission sends out the “Cold Patrol” when temperatures drop below freezing, many people can’t or won’t go in doors to the Mission because they will be separated from their pets or spouses or because being in crowded environments triggers a feeling of paranoia or of being in jail. Many of these individuals will come indoors with us and we often know many of them by name. We can accomodate pets and couples. We also carry blankets and warm clothes with us when we go out to ensure that if people do not want to come in, they can at least be a little warmer.
Our first emergency shelter will be this Sunday night at Hobson United Methodist Church in East Nashville. Throughout the winter, we will need volunteers who are “on-call” to help with this whenever the temperature drops. We need volunteers who can bring and/or prepare food, drive with us around the city to help pick up our friends, help set up the emergency shelter in the evenings and help clean up and break down the shelter in the mornings, stay overnight at the church as “Inn Keepers,” and help transport people back into town in the mornings. If you are interested in helping with any of these tasks, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will send you e-mails and updates whenever we are opening an emergency shelter so you can help if you are available.
Last winter was a particularly rough winter for Nashville, and if you’re interested in reading about it, see “The Dark Side of Nashville’s Winter Wonderland.” Thanks, as always, for your continued willingness to be the hands and feet of the resurrected Christ.