by Pete Marshall
Water soaks through shredded news
That’s wrapped around a hungry heart
And as I walk in heelless shoes
I wonder forth around the park.
The nights are cold and days are long
My mind replay’s where I went wrong
And rain will soak and wash my tears
Where strength resolves to show no fear.
And last nights meal was found in bins
Of salad tossed in throw out things
And smokes are found upon the floor
The stubbed out tabs I barter for.
The children stare as mums walk past
A school runs joy a nervous laugh
That sees no soul as thoughts are cast
Their eyes look down and cross the path.
My callused hands and grubby nails
Grip plastic bags that hold my life
And heelless shoes pace endless trails
That tread beyond this bitter plight.
When you have no place to live, no secure place to store your valuables and not much room to carry your stuff, simple things can make a big difference. Suddenly things we take for granted become IMPORTANT!
People become homeless for many reasons. Finances, drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, poor life choices or skills, personal preference and more.
There are also many families in our area, whom we consider to be ‘at-risk’. The situation for families who live paycheck to paycheck won’t be looking too good if they lose a job and can’t get another one right away (and these families may just be someone you know or are related to).
Many of these people need our help and compassion. There is a fine line between telling the bum on the street corner to go out and get a job and being judgmental. Sometimes the jobs just aren’t there and there are some people who due to various illnesses, disabilities or age, just can’t hold down a job.
If you spend any amount of time at our Mission, you will soon see that everyone has a story and each person is an individual still worthy of their dignity and our respect.
We are far from perfect here at the Mission and we each have our share of faults. But while sometimes it is hard to do, we do try and love the sinner and hate the sin and show love and mercy to each person who walks through our door.
How do these people survive?
There are government programs available to some, but other people are getting lost in the cracks of society. Charity used to begin at home and for small, vibrant communities, it still should, with friends, neighbors, churches, businesses and civic organizations reaching out to their neighbors, friends and relatives.
The Sierra House, the Gospel Missions’ women and childrens transitional home will hold 2 small families and per bequest it is meant to give single mother’s with children a semi-permanent place to stay until they can get back on their feet.
El Refugio Domestic Abuse Center will house 32 women and children on a mid-term basis and normally requires a domestic violence report to be on file.
We run an emergency cold weather shelter for the men, that due to funding is only open Nov 15-Mar 31 with space for 15 men.
There are currently no permanent men or women’s emergency shelters in our area, though we are working on this issue. But this takes time, money, suitable land and other resources. The closest mens shelters are in Tuscon, El Paso or Albuquerque.
How we are trying to help
We receive many donations at the Gospel Mission. Lots of clothes and household items, some canned goods and food and a little bit of cash.
When a homeless or at-risk individual comes in, our current resources allow us to supply them with 10 articles of clothing per month for each family member, 1 blanket and 1 coat per year per family member and a small emergency food box which will last for around 1 week.
We also have a soup kitchen where they can get a hot meal every daily.
Survival kits available
Thanks to a grant from Freeport-McMoran, we will now have some basic survival kits to more fully meet the needs of our homeless population! (after the completion of a simple hypothermia class)
Many times the homeless don’t have the capacity or strength to carry a large amount of items. Due to the nature of their lifestyle, the things they do have are often stolen, become wet or are lost or sold for food or drugs. Many items they are in true need of, just aren’t donated.
And as shown by Silver City’s recent fire disaster in the Silver Acres area, some small survival kits available to the general population and law enforcement would also be handy to have while we give our Las Cruces Red Cross, FEMA and other area resources time to mobilize.
*Items included in these survival kits will include:
Homeless Food Kit
(Supplied via Gospel Mission’s pantry)
1 plastic jar peanut butter
2 snack-pac puddings
2 ramen noodle packages-
1 plastic bottle gatoraid
1 gallon zip-loc storage bag
1 tooth brush
1 toilet paper pack
1 stick deodorant
1 wash cloth
1 disposable razor
1 zip-loc storage bag
1 waterproof heavy duty trash bag for transport
Note: There are a myriad of other items that could be added; we have tried to keep the cost down with the basic essentials while still retaining an edge of safety for the community (ie-no lighters or matches included).
*Sources of each may vary, depending on supply and costs
If you or someone you know is in need of a kit, please drop by the Mission or talk to your nearest law enforcement officer.
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