The temperatures are on the rise in Philadelphia, and weather forecasts show that the region will see several 90 degree days! On days like these, I can avoid the heat by spending hours at the pool, staying hydrated with cold glasses of water, and relaxing in the air conditioning. However, that is not the case for many homeless men and women.
Excessively hot days can be miserable for our homeless brothers and sisters who have no place to go. On mornings when I walk to Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission, I see homeless individuals seeking shade beneath underpasses or resting underneath the awning of a vacant storefront in an effort to stay cool.
Hot days can be unbearable when I don’t have access to air conditioning, but then I think about how much more miserable it is for homeless men and women who don’t have access to it on a regular basis. For our homeless friends, hot days don’t just offer several hours of temporary uneasiness like they do for me. The heat can bring weeks of discomfort as our homeless neighbors struggle to stay cool and hydrated on the city streets.
Because of supporters like you, Sunday Breakfast can be a beacon of hope in the heat this summer. We see an influx of guests seeking shelter in our cool, air conditioned building, while enjoying a satisfying meal and something refreshing to drink. During hot days, the air conditioned dinning room stays open after meals so our guests don’t have to venture out into the hot sun.
Along with staying cool, staying hydrated throughout the day is important for our guests. When our homeless friends come to the Mission they can drink as much water as they want. However, when they choose to leave we don’t always have bottled water to give them before they go. Bottled water is an essential item we need this summer, because our guests can easily transport it, and it guarantees they’ll have something to drink throughout the day.
During my time at Sunday Breakfast, I have learned that it doesn’t take much to impact someone’s life in a significant way. I’ve always wanted to make a difference by helping people in big ways. But in many cases, it is the small things we do that have a lasting impact.
Sunday Breakfast began changing the lives of homeless men in the late 1800’s by offering them bread and cups of coffee. And you and I can continue that Mission of helping our homeless neighbors by blessing them with bottled water in this summer heat.
To learn how you can donate bottled water to the hungry, homeless, and hurting email our volunteer coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the past few weeks, the Mission has been under construction due to flood damage and necessary upgrades. No services have been suspended but we have had to move things around. When the construction began, we just planned on revamping the entryway in order to make the Mission a more welcoming place for the men and women we serve. But then in one night, the size of this project doubled because of some major flooding which destroyed the Learning Center.
This is why suddenly and without warning the Mission was forced to “think outside the box” about where to hold classes, meetings, and computers. This unexpected change of plans is a stark reminder of how quickly one can be forced into a new (and maybe worse) situation.
With one flood, the Overcomers are robbed of their Learning Center. The carpets, doors, and some of the walls were irreparably damaged by the water. But the flood took more than the room; it took the books, the shelves, the computers, the desks, and one very nice conference table. This unforeseen loss forces us to appreciate what we have (or had) and how easy it is to lose something important. This transition demonstrated that with one flood, one hurricane, or one fire we can lose everything and find ourselves on the street.
Many of us think that homelessness could never effect us but the fact is that one natural disaster could lead us down that road. As I write this, there are wildfires sweeping California and forcing hundreds of families to evacuate their homes. Hopefully, the fire will stay well away from their houses and they will not be thrust into homelessness but it is impossible to be certain when it comes to nature. Homelessness can hit anyone with just one natural disaster which is why it is so important to stop thinking “that could never happen to me” and start thinking about ways we can work together to help those who have been effected.
But even though the Mission is under construction, we continue to work hard to help as many people as possible. Regardless of the construction, the Mission is serving three meals a day, housing hundreds of people a night, and hosting clinics like normal. This difficult but rewarding time parallels the transformations that happens every day for the men in the Mission. We may be dealing with the growing pains of construction but these men are changing everything. Changing your life is hard, uncomfortable, and generally unpleasant but it is sometimes necessary and always rewarding.
Transformation and new beginnings are concepts that we think about regularly at the Mission. We are working hand in hand with people who are striving to change or beginning to befriend people who have yet to make that choice. Your continued partnership in this time of growth is greatly appreciated because, like the men here, we couldn’t do it alone.
I fall under the third category. Despite a hatred of the cold: I love the snow. It is beautiful and (even though people are terrible drivers) magical. But there is no “snow day” from being homeless. People don’t get to leave work early from homelessness.
At Sunday Breakfast, we try to make life a little easier for homeless men, women, and children in Philadelphia. Our Day Room is packed with men and women who are just looking for a warm place to spend the day. As an added touch of home: we are serving hot & hearty soup for lunch just like mothers everywhere on Snow Days. Later today we will even be projecting a movie on a wall of the Day Room. Who doesn’t love to stay in on a snowy evening and watch a movie?
As much as I love talking about snow (and trust me: I do), I have always been able to choose to come inside when my the tips of my fingers went numb. This is why, I want to share a poem with you by a member of our Overcomer program who has a passion for the written word. David Harlem is very imaginative kindhearted soul. So today, I leave you with a poem about the chill of winter from a formerly homeless and extremely creative individual.
Blue Norther David Harlem
thunders across the prairie
sharp as buffalo hooves;
hard as betrayal.
a defiant head;
tall grass bows
Father North Wind
satisfaction in his grim grey eyes.
has broken its treaty.