This evening, Brent and his son, Sandy, Barb, Jens and myself were on the streets of Eau Claire being of service to those in need. Mike, Plymouth's street pastor was out of town and for the most part, all went well. It was apparent how those on the street view Mike and his reliability and care for them, many asked out of concern where he was and if he was okay. I don't believe that many of the people we serve rely solely on us for the food or clothing but rather for some consistency and stability in their lives. They know that every Tuesday and Friday that we will be there ready to listen, ready to pray, ready to support them in their time of need.
Two of the women we see on a regular basis are being treated for bedbugs, a third woman claims to have symptoms but has not sought treatment. The shelter denies it being possible due to their cleaning protocol. Regardless of the cause, these women are quite uncomfortable. No men have reported symptoms at this point, I hope that these three cases are isolated and no others develop the same symptoms. The women have little choice each night but to accept the shelter staff's claim, hoping that no additional bites or symptoms develop. People on the street often do not have much recourse to dispute issues. For these women, if they stand up for themselves too strongly, it is possible that they would be told to leave the shelter. Others don't raise concerns for their issues for fear of the police being contacted. Sometimes the cost of standing up for oneself is too great of a risk, and that is very sad.
We had a newcomer in town, she claims she left her partner due to his heroin habit and for safety reasons. She reports that if she had stayed in the home with him that violence either towards her or towards him would have eventually developed, she was very afraid for her safety. The woman is in a wheelchair due to injuries decades ago that caused permanent nerve damage. I am especially concerned about wheelchair-bound people who wander the streets, their vulnerability compared to those more mobile is definitely increased.
There are two women that interviewed for jobs, we pray for success for them. Another woman will be starting a job on Wednesday, she has had a rough time as of late and a job would distract her mind from her personal problems as well as start her on her way to getting off of the streets.
The man we refer to as the white supremacist has indicated a desire to leave Eau Claire and go to a another city in a different state. I think that if he leaves, many lives in our community will be much more at ease. He has talked to Pastor Mike and asked if he would help him with a one way ticket to another Midwest destination where his family is located.
We served about 40-45 people, by the end of the month that number will likely grow. Please continue to support the street ministry in any way you choose, and as always, thank you for what you do. Feel free to contact us if you're interested in volunteering, we'd love to have you!