During the winter we hear so much about people who are homeless and the dangers posed by the cold winter weather. What people don’t always realize is how dangerous the hot weather can be for those who live on the streets or spend long periods of time outside during hot summer days. A few years ago in Phoenix 40 homeless people died in one summer – all heat related deaths.
Exposure to the heat and sun can lead to dehydration, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, sunburn and other serious illnesses. When the weather is warm and there are fewer emergency shelter beds available than there are in the winter, more people sleep on the streets, susceptible to violence and crime. Public places like libraries and stores may not welcome homeless people who could benefit from a brief respite in some air conditioning.
And so, just like in the winter, the summer months are busy ones at Calvary Women’s Services. When the temperature goes up, Calvary’s staff and volunteers swing into action. On the really hot days, we see many more women coming into the programs during the day to take advantage of the air conditioning. We provide extra meals on those days, striving to serve more fruits and vegetables to help keep everyone hydrated. We make sure women have access to water and to clothing programs where they can get seasonally appropriate clothes.
During the summer, our air conditioning costs at just one of our programs can be over $1,000 each month. Our grocery bills increase dramatically so we can provide all of those fresh fruits and vegetables.
So just like over the winter holidays, this means we rely on donations and volunteers to get us through. We count on our supporters to help us pay for the utilities to keep our programs cool and open. We rely on volunteers to provide extra meals. We look to community groups to provide water, umbrellas and other supplies.
Want to help out? Here are some things you can do this summer to help ensure women in our community are safe as the temperatures rise:
· Drop off a lunch that can be frozen and served when we’re open on a hot day
· Donate toiletries – anything from soap to sunscreen is a big help
· Make a financial contribution to help keep our programs open when women need them most
For more information about these opportunities or other ways to get involved, please contact Catherine Bisson at (202) 289-2111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.