Help Quench Their Thirst for Hope This Summer
By Laurie Patsalides, Public Relations Coordinator
Are you ready for the hot, hazy days of summer? For the health and well-being of the homeless, it can be as dangerous as our region’s long, winter months. In our city under resurgence, a homeless population still exists, even during the summer.
According to the Homeless Alliance of Western New York (2016 Homeless Alliance Annual Report), 5,953 people experienced homelessness last year, which reflects a 9.1% increase from 2015. Homelessness does not discriminate; it affects people of every race, age, and continues in every season, 365 days of the year.
While most Buffalonians plan vacations, family cookouts, swimming, and work to keep cool in the AC, for those without shelter from the sun, a reprieve from high temperatures, and reliable access to clean water, summer isn’t a carefree and fun time; it’s a burden.
Willie, a current resident of the Buffalo City Mission, knows the streets of Buffalo all too well, especially during summer, and shared with us the hardships of his personal experience. “No matter where you try to sleep, on the sidewalk, on the grass, in the woods, or underneath a vidock, you fear for your safety. You barely ever sleep,” he says.
For many like Willie, mosquito bites, tick bites, sunburn, and sweating contribute to dangerous fungal and Staph infections, especially without a place to take a shower or a place of refuge. “The mosquitoes are enough to drive you crazy,” he shared, “because you never get relief.” Before coming to the Mission, Willie recalls, “The only way to feel clean was to go into the woods with soap when it’s pouring rain and hold a garbage bag over your head. Once it’s filled, pour it over yourself to rinse off.”
Average water intake should be ten cups (consisting of eight fluid ounces) per day, but for a homeless person, drinking this amount is nearly impossible. To hydrate themselves, “You find an outdoor water spigot at night,” says Willie. Without access to the appropriate amount of clean drinking water, a person experiencing homelessness can become quickly dehydrated, suffer from thirst pains, heat stroke, fatigue, irritability, poor immunity, dry mouth, and more. Sadly, death as a result of these symptoms is not uncommon.
Thankfully, the doors of the Buffalo City Mission are open 365 days a year, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day to meet this growing need. Willie, who was caught up in a cycle of drug addiction, was finally able to find relief from the summer strain when he walked through the doors of the Mission. There he received a hot meal, a bed where he could rest his head, and a shower. For people on the streets, a shower in the summertime means the difference between feeling like a human being or not. No one should have to live like this.
The Mission’s goal is not merely to serve the hurting and homeless, but to uproot poverty and homelessness at its core in their lives. Often times, once a resident has his or her basic needs met, like Willie, he or she will make a transformative choice to join the Mission’s Dream Transitional Housing Program—a program that offers financial literacy, education, legal support, health services and more! Today, Willie receives Pre-Collegiate Studies with certified teachers through our partnership with Erie Community College.
This is why over the 92 days of summer, you can help quench their thirst for hope through our Summer of Hope campaign. Our goal over the next three months is to raise over $100,000 toward our rescue and restoration services so others just like Willie can have the same opportunity to begin a new journey towards a life of self-sufficiency and purpose. Please join us in the fight against homelessness by donating to the Buffalo City Mission. Just visit our website https://www.buffalocitymission.org/donate-online/ or call (716) 854-8181 Ext. 429 to donate now, because those who come to us deserve a chance to change their lives—and receive new hope this summer.
About the Buffalo City Mission
The Buffalo City Mission, founded in 1917, is a nonprofit organization that provides preventative, emergency as well as transitional housing programs to thousands of people who are homeless and impoverished. The Mission includes a Women and Children’s Shelter, Cornerstone Manor; the Men’s Community Center; and the Buffalo City Mission Thrift Store to serve the Western New York community. For more information, please visit www.buffalocitymission.org or call (716) 854-8181.
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