It takes a village to help homeless population

February 10, 2023

The following letter is a response to a recent letter from Gail Jackson asking why the Code Purple shelter at St. Jude is limited to men.

I have the short answer as to why this particular Code Purple shelter is for men only.

The umbrella for Code Purple’s use of local facilities, Love Inc., has determined the number and gender for sheltering residents of local winter Code Purple shelters, which includes St. Jude Church. You may ask for supporting statistics and logistics from Love Inc. My personal experience is that the largest group around here is adult white men who would be employable, given basic needs, nutrition and safety. I do not know why that is, but it is the greatest current need, and resources are slim – very slim.

Be aware that higher-level funding is less than minimal and the groups that offer use of their facilities, like St. Jude, do so pro bono. We are to care for those in need, a biblical mandate that is not limited to Christians or any other group. It is a universal call to all humanity to help all God’s creatures.

There are a number of women’s shelters near here, but there is no publicity nor announcement of these locations for the safety of those residents while they regroup.

I will just throw in a thought. Many homes have garages and large sheds. If a particular person or family seems trustworthy to be offered bathroom facilities, these private roofed places could be of tremendous help, especially in cold weather, just to sustain life. I will share one statistic I know: the average American male living unsheltered has a lifespan of 46 years.

I ask those who are aware of the horror of homelessness to get talking and come up with at least something, be it just setting out food, sleeping bags and plywood or small tents. Life is precious. I have learned that one rescued from life-threatening harshness pays back more than they receive and then goes on to help others.

Ms. Jackson, you express a great heart and see the need for shelter for all. And you have the courage to speak, so grab some friends and help, and get others motivated too. It does take a village.

Rhona Prescott
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