After several months of doing street outreach each week with OIM I’ve started to recognize familiar faces on our regular routes. We often see the same people in the same places: on specific street corners on Elgin Street or Bank Street, under the bridge across from the Chateau Laurier and outside Dollar Stores. I’ve enjoyed meeting lots of different people and hearing a little bit about their lives and stories as we hand out food and clothing.
We’ve had one of the mildest January’s on record and one Thursday night early in the month my husband and I realized we had “over-dressed” as we dragged our wagon through the snowy sidewalks that hadn’t been plowed. We huffed and puffed and steamed up our masks and glasses and vowed to pay closer attention to the weather forecast before driving downtown. Then a cold snap hit, and last Thursday we found ourselves hitting the streets on the coldest night of the year so far, with the temperature around minus 20 C; colder with the windchill.
With the change in weather we noticed many of our clients had relocated. With restaurants and malls closed many of our homeless friends were huddled in the ATM areas of banks or inside the O-Train station on Rideau. Some were sitting on top of the exhaust grates from large buildings, trying to keep warm in the flow of expelled air, while others had simply burrowed deeper into their blankets in their normal outdoor places in front of stores and office buildings. We were able to pass out more substantial clothing that night – long-sleeved sweaters, heavy gloves, long underwear, blankets, and winter coats. One young man we met was clothed only in a shirt with sleeves that were too short, and he was thrilled to receive a warm coat from our wagon. I’m thankful to donors who provided these new and used items. On this coldest of nights, these items may have saved a life.
Psalm 82:3 – “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.”
~Karen, Street Outreach Volunteer