There is scarcely anything more comforting than a steamy mug of hot tea on a cold, blustery day, but keeping warm and comfortable is a luxury that eludes many of our homeless neighbors. Thankfully, our good friends from Bigelow Tea have once again joined us in the battle against poverty by rounding up a sizable quantity of warm winter clothing and, as a special added bonus, several thousand tea bags that will soon be enjoyed by our resident clients as well as those who live in the many homeless camps scattered across the city. Bitter winter weather has arrived in Louisville far earlier than normal and the demands for our services are great. Thanks to friends like Thad Judy, Eric Jackson, Jeff Pinkerton Marvin Jones of Bigelow Tea, we are meeting to needs of Louisvillians who are afflicted by extreme poverty. We are truly grateful to Bigelow Tea for their donation of winter clothing and, of course, their delicious tea. This should go a long way in making life better for those who have so little.
With over six hundred men, women, boys, and girls in our care, we have many needs. We need food. We need winter clothing. We need personal hygiene items. But toilet paper? Yes, we need toilet paper! Statistically, the average American uses two rolls of toilet paper per month. This month, we will supply some 1200 rolls of toilet paper to clients. The demand can leave us a bit flushed, but thanks to the organizational efforts of youth minister Jenna Heery, we have been well stocked with roll upon roll of toilet paper. As it happened, Jenna and the Pewee Valley Presbyterian church youth recently held a toilet paper drive to benefit the many people in our care. The drive was successful and a real need was met! Money that we do not have to spend on toilet paper can help fund our many client services. We are indeed grateful to Jenna and her kids who proved they care about Louisville’s homeless in a rather unique but very tangible way!
“The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.”
Alyson Goldberg, the parent sponsor for a group called the Cloudsdale Crusaders representing a small band of homeschoolers and their parents, along with other involved adults delivered a sizable quantity of warm blankets collected by their middle-school children to Wayside Christian Mission’s Hotel Louisville. This group emphasizes important life lessons including friendship, generosity, loyalty, kindness, and honesty. While visiting the hotel, the kids learned that many of their blankets will soon be distributed at homeless camps throughout the city by way of the mission’s Samaritan Patrol. These warm blankets will be given to those who need them most—and as cold weather has arrived early, their donated blankets will help save the lives of our most impoverished neighbors. The kids also made some greeting cards which will be distributed to the women in our Sober Living Program. We are grateful to these amazing kids who worked hard to collect these warm blankets. Hats off to the parents, too, who have instilled the value of charity in their children’s hearts.
As hunger never takes a holiday, our kitchen staff remains busy preparing two thousand or more meals daily. Most of the food is prepared by volunteers and the resident clients in our care, but from where does all this food come? One such source is donated food and among our food donors is Bellarmine University. Ranked by U.S. News and World Report as among the finest regional universities, Bellarmine University attracts some of the best and brightest students from around the nation. Besides their rigorous academic standards, the school strongly encourages their students to engage in the community. Thankfully, an appreciable number of Bellarmine students have chosen Wayside Christian Mission as a site for their volunteer services. Among these is a group of students who have joined us in the fight against hunger.
One of the students, Jessica, explained the program. “A small group of students and I have put together a food recovery program. This is where we are packaging unused food from our dining hall and donating it to organizations that have a demand for food. This helps reduce food waste and it gives a helping hand to the community.” Since then, a number of students have arrived after dark bearing large trays of deliciously prepared foods. This waste not want not approach benefits the women, men, and children in our care.
We are grateful to these dedicated students who are making late night food runs to the mission. The future looks a little brighter knowing these students are our future leaders.
Hypertension, diet, skin cancer, medication, and depression are among the health-related issues of particular concern to the women in our Sober Living Program. Understandably, addiction takes a heavy toll on the health of alcoholics and drug addicts. As our resident clients work to regain their sobriety, they have a host of questions pertaining to their health and well-being. Thankfully, these pertinent topics were addressed by Jefferson Community and Technical College’s Debra James’ and a group of well-prepared nursing students during a recent health fair at Hotel Louisville.
Events as this are good for the students and good for our resident clients. The students gain real world experience while our resident clients benefit from wealth of knowledge presented by the students and their instructors. As many as four or five groups of students from as many different schools make presentations to the women and men in our recovery program in a single week.
We have a close working relationship with Jefferson Community and Technical College. Geographically, we are neighbors, but the spirit of cooperation extends well beyond physical boundaries. We offer a program allowing resident clients to attend college classes; the majority of our College and Career Program participants attend JCTC. One of the mission’s staff members sits on two of the school’s advisory committees. Additionally, JCTC students from a number of programs have led classes at the mission. JCTC and Wayside Christian Mission are community partners in making life better for Louisville’s homeless population.
We salute Debra James and her amazing nursing students for creating an inviting atmosphere of information and knowledge for the benefit of those whom we are blessed to serve.