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A W.A.R.M. “Thank You” and Eye Opening Discoveries

A Note From Gail Wathen: “I’d like to extend my sincerest and heartfelt thanks to all of those who assisted with W.A.R.M. this year.  Your contributions of time, food service, prayer, donations, and friendship to our neighbors allowed for another successful year of hosting this much needed ministry.  As we get back to our busy lives, I’d like to invite you to continue to remember those who are in need of basic necessities.  It’s easy to forget when the faces of the homeless are no longer at our doorstep.  I myself roll right back into my daily routines until this time next year when our week to host is upon us.  This year will be different for me.  I made a promise to myself and more importantly to God that I will not only remember but will actively seek ways with His guidance in which I can serve.  T.J. Maday and I had many conversations with our guests which led to some eye opening discoveries.  I’d like share some of those with you so that perhaps you can gain a better understanding of the challenges many face.

This is affordable housing.  We had a lovely couple join us this year.  This was their first experience being homeless.  They were in their early fifties and had lived in a very nice condo.  The wife had lost her job, and, while her husband still holds a good job outside of DC, they found that with their other expenses they could no longer afford rent.  Searching for housing in this area has been a challenge for them. Working with a budget of $925/month they have found very few places.  Those that are within their budget had a wait list.  To get put on a wait list, one must submit a non-refundable application fee.  This woman diligently spends her day placing job applications and looking for housing while her husband is at work.  They were not the only ones this affected.  We had others who worked but couldn’t afford housing.

The second thing I picked up on was lack of family support.  I guess this really touched me as it was the 18, 19, 20 year olds that reminded me of my children.  We had one individual who had gotten strep throat and was so very sick.  He was 18 and his mom lived locally.  While I don’t know the circumstances of his homelessness, it was hard for me to fathom not being there to support one of my children in a time of need.  When I shared my heartbreak over this young man with someone they immediately said “well he must be on drugs or something for his mom to kick him out.” Perhaps…perhaps not, I don’t know.  What I DO know is that in order to be a part of the WARM program each individual is initially screened by DSS and again screened each evening when they check into Three Oaks.  That is why I could say he has not been a substance abuser while in the program and I don’t know that he ever was.  Anyway, there were quite a few in the program who had family in the area.  I am not judging as there are always two sides to every story.  As a mom, however, it is difficult for me to imagine one of my children on the streets much less on the streets and sick.

I’m sure there are other stories.  Many of you during your volunteer hours may have had some conversations that hit a nerve or pulled on a heart string. I just want you to know that lending your ear and listening means a lot. It’s just as important as a warm place to sleep and food for the stomach.  So as we go back to our daily routines, I ask that you pray for our brothers and sisters and pray for me that God uses me for their good.  If perhaps you feel moved to do more, contact me.  Let’s begin a discussion that will lead to action.”

God Bless,
Gail