I’ve only spent 5 hours helping to deliver meals to our cities homeless population but I was amazed and humbled in those few hours.
Street Angels started 3 years ago when they took over a similar mission. Their main focus is trying to get people off the streets into homes. But you can’t enter this homeless community just asking for their names and if they have been contacted to seek housing, you need to gain their trust and provide basic needs!
So we started off on a route on the south side of Milwaukee, that would eventually lead us to the Northside, mainly the downtown area. Street Angels have a specific route that they follow so that it’s consistent and the homeless met us at each of the 25 or so stops. Our leader for the evening Shelly knew everyone’s name on the route, of course they’re were new faces along the way! She made sure to get their names, IF they would give them! One woman almost fell for it as we were walking with her from the bus to the court house where there is a tent city, Shelly nonchalantly asked her name, and she almost gave it, then caught herself! Hell No! 😂! We all laughed together. Believe it or not, some don’t want to be found, or live in an apartment or shelter! But they still need necessities.
The important reason to get their names is to add them to the database, to keep track of housing opportunities, hospital stays, sex trafficking!
So basic needs of a person who is homeless: food, SOCKS, underwear, shoes, boots, blankets, warm clothes, (now that winter is coming,) batteries for their flashlights and small radios.
If you think about it, when it comes to things like socks and underwear, what do they do with it when they change it? I saw two very different scenarios. The first was at our very first stop! We got off the bus and walked down A LOT of stairs to get under the bridge right next to the railroad tracks! I’m upset that I didn’t get a picture, next time I will! Shelly told us to watch out for needles. (Next time I’m wearing different boots!) Great, I thought, how many could there be? Shelly has been doing this for 3 years, she knows her community! They were EVERYWHERE! Along with clothes (underwear and socks) and garbage, the bagged meals that we delivered, became part of the garbage mess the next day! The tents were up on the landing under the bridge, but the thing was, every time a car passed over it was so loud! Like a clanking noise! How do these folks sleep?? There were maybe 5 tents there, because that’s all that would fit! Then right next to the railroad tracks a distance away was another tent, where the two girls lived.
My husband is an engineer for the railroad and drives these tracks everyday, I think if he reached out of his window he could touch their tent! Scary and loud!
Back to the surroundings, it was the worst of the night! Hence the need for many, many socks and underwear! They become garbage.
Scenario #2. One of our stops is at a Hispanic tent city. Very resourceful! We could look down from the bridge that was over a river, and see their setup. They actually fish from the river, had a fire going, had a tarp up in case of rain that attached to trees and along the wall that separated them from the river. I saw clotheslines with clothes hanging, they use the river to wash their clothes. The reason that I mentioned that this was a Hispanic “city” is because of their make shift flag pole! It brought me and the sophomore from UWM who was with us, to tears!
With all that is happening in our country with immigration, this says it all!
Part 3 coming up!