With wind-chill, it was 21 degrees on the streets of Downtown Chicago last night as many homeless were looking to survive the night. And equal to the overwhelming response to donations this past week; there was a seemingly endless need for coats, blankets, medical attention\supplies and nonperishable food items. In total, I had the blessings to distribute supplies to 42 men and women ranging in age between 16 and 72.
Of the many helped, Daryl (39yo) and Jesse (32 yo) were all smiles at the east corner of the Sear’s Tower as they tried on coats and sang “…Christmas’s come early, God Bless you…” in deep baritone unison. And Christine (64 yo) struck a dignified pose after putting on some new clothes and placing medical supplies and food in her bag.
However the mood was different with those whose health needed immediate intervention to save their arms, feet, legs from amputation. Steve’s (54yo) arms were full of lesions and had progressed to MRSA which makes treatment complicated. In addition to treating the wounds, Steve received two weeks’ worth of infection treatment kits (eg wipes, antibiotic cream, sterile bandages).
Others though were lost and succumbed to harsh life on the streets. John (26yo) called this mattress under an Oglevee Train Station Viaduct home and passed away in his sleep Saturday night from what I was told was severe dehydration, pneumonia and exposure. I’ve known John for two years and he is survived by his 24yo fiancée and 3yo son who are currently residing in a family assisted living facility. About a month ago, his wife got accepted in a program that allowed her to reunite with her son and pursue vocational training. When this occurred, the lack of a dual income meant that John could no longer afford the per month cost of a hotel room. John’s decision to see his wife and child progress to a sustainable situation cost him his life; this is a Shakespearean-esque sacrifice that’s played out on the cold streets of Chicago every week. All I know to take away is that I am the better for having known John and been fitness to part of his life.
I cannot thank everyone enough for all their donations!