Help homeless as weather changes

By: Carol Feineman, Editor
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To donate:

Residents can help the homeless by donating cold-weather items, cash and food to the nonprofit Salt Mine. Bring in donations to The Salt Mine at 590 Lincoln Blvd. between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

My friends appreciate the cooler weather since fall weather appeared about 10 days ago.

Residents walking their dogs are no longer confined to the activity in early morning or early night when the pavement isn’t so hot on paws.

And residents who like to run can take advantage of cooler temperatures to make their exercise more enjoyable.

But what about those living on the street, those who can’t afford to turn the heat on or those who don’t have warm coats?

What happens to them? They want to be warm at night. Several residents I talked to without shelter dread nighttime.

During the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, several community-based drives help keep the homeless as comfortable as possible.

There are 10 other months, however, to consider.

It’s only the beginning of fall but nights are becoming chilly. The dropping temperatures are hard on the homeless.

When it gets cold, rainy or wet,” said Joe Sorber, The Salt Mine manager, “I can go home to a warm house. But if I don’t have a home and I go under the bridge, then it’s miserable. At nighttime, temperatures are now dropping and it’s only going to get colder.”

The nonprofit Salt Mine, on the corner of Lincoln Boulevard and Sixth Street, provides food and showers daily for the homeless, and clothing and blankets when needed.

“In Lincoln, I talk to 20 to 25 homeless regularly,” Sorber said. “There could be more. I heard the number of homeless could be 50.”

Sorber said that the homeless residents are between the ages of 18 and 62.

The Lincoln community can help this month by providing tarps to help keep individuals dry, blankets, jackets, socks (“that’s huge,” Sorber said), knitted hats, scarves and gloves to The Salt Mine at 590 Lincoln Blvd. Those items will then be distributed to those who need help in keeping warm and dry this month and in the fast-approaching winter months.

And financial donations are always welcome by The Salt Mine to buy these items as necessary.

For homeless residents who want a warm indoors place to stay at night, the nonprofit Gathering Inn is another option.

Through The Gathering Inn, area churches provide nighttime housing and meals to up to 60 residents on a rotating basis, according to the inn’s shelter director Liz Nicholson. Showers are provided at the nonprofit organization’s facility in Roseville.

The Gathering Inn takes in individuals (both males and females) and families.

The shelter fills up when the weather changes.

“When the weather gets really cold, such as November, December and January, we always have to turn five to 15 people away,” Nicholson said, “because of lack of space.”

And based on fall temperatures in recent years, Nicholson indicated, the weather could turn unpleasant for those without housing any week now.

When asked how the community can help The Gathering Inn, Nicholson gave two ways.

First, she said to refer residents to the organization at 791-9355.

“They have to be clean and sober,” Nicholson said. “They can not be on Megan’s Law. They have to be a Placer County resident and have a TB (test) placed.”

Second, residents can donate to The Gathering Inn.

“We take all kinds of donations:  financial, furniture donations in good condition and basic men’s and women’s clothing and coats.”

Donations for The Gathering Inn should go to 201 Berkeley Ave. in Roseville.

Lincoln’s nonprofit Lighthouse Counseling & Family Resource Center, which provides counseling, education and access to resources, also works with some homeless residents.

“Studies show an increase in morbidity and mortality for the homeless during cold seasons.  Hospitals are likely to see a tremendous increase in hypothermia,” said Lighthouse’s executive director Angela Ponivas, M.S.W. “Lighthouse has had entire families come for help, when children were sleeping in cars.  The risk of illness and death is much greater for homeless children.” 

And, this becomes a community problem, when it is not appropriately addressed, according to Ponivas. 

“Families sleeping outside or in abandoned buildings, or in cars are likely to negatively affect the community from a social perspective, a health perspective and a financial perspective,” Ponivas said.

Let’s be proactive in helping those without a home all year-round.

Being cold is a year-round concern for many in our community, not just during Thanksgiving and Christmas-time.