Without a place to call home, people are exposed to the elements. Many types of dangers can be present throughout the year, from excessive heat to extreme cold.
It can be difficult for those who are living outdoors to stay dry during spring and summer monsoons. Rain, mud and flooding contribute to wet clothing and campsites, making hygiene maintenance a challenge. The moisture makes it especially hard to keep needed paperwork and identification in good condition.
As the summer heat settles in, dehydration can be life-threatening. The risk of fire also increases significantly. Fires cause campgrounds to close, often leaving people displaced or facing fines. As a precaution, those camping should comply with local fire restrictions and ensure any campfires are completely extinguished (cool to the touch).
Fall may bring some relief to persons experiencing homelessness, but freezing temperatures are soon to follow. Snow and ice can isolate people, leading to potentially fatal conditions.
Meeting Individuals Where They Are
The PATH (Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness) program’s specially trained staff and volunteers connect those who are seriously mentally ill and experiencing homelessness with treatment and housing. This is particularly important during extreme weather.
Staff in the PATH program are specially trained to scour forests, streets and deserts during all conditions. They engage individuals throughout Coconino, Yavapai and Mohave County to build trust, provide accurate information and offer connections to life-sustaining supplies and services. Above all, each person is met with dignity and compassion.
Providing Essential Outreach
Dwight Manuel is the newest PATH Program Homeless Outreach Support Specialist at Catholic Charities. During his first night conducting winter outreach in freezing temperatures, Dwight and his co-worker Sarah Annibal encountered six individuals and successfully moved four of them into shelter.
The second night, Dwight teamed up with a PATH supervisor and encountered 11 individuals who were outdoors for the night. Two were moved into shelter and the others were given life-sustaining supplies.
Dwight stated, “I want to assist those in becoming self-sufficient in their lives, being there each step along the way.” Dwight is exactly what PATH needs to make that difference in people’s lives.
Distributing Life-Sustaining Supplies
People with a serious mental illness who are experiencing homelessness may be unsure about shelters, treatment or help. In many cases, supplying them with items such as tents, sleeping bags and water can greatly improve their quality of life. It is also a way to gain trust, with the ultimate goal of getting people into psychiatric treatment and permanent housing.
This work would not be possible without support from generous donors. Please consider supporting homeless outreach efforts through the purchase of supplies included in the Homeless Outreach Amazon Charity List. Your contribution could save a life.