I was planning on writing a blog this week about how the Code Blue season is over and we can close up shop now and go on about our lives… What I realized today is that even though the Code Blue season may be over, this ministry is not. Far from it….

I was just saying to my husband last night that I wish I knew what has happened to some of the guys we have served at our Code Blue Shelter this winter. In total, we provided shelter for 22 different men between December 1, 2009, and March 31, 2010. We know where some of them are–some of them have found homes, some of them have gone to live with family. Some of them are in more permanent shelters, and some of them are still homeless. We haven’t really heard from many of them–we know what we know about their whereabouts because our partner agencies have told us, or because we helped some of them get into their new homes or situations.

Well, be careful what you wish for! This morning when I arrived at work there was a envelope for me from the Montgomery County Correctional Facility. Upon opening the envelope, I discovered a letter from one of our guys, who we’ll call Bill. Bill was arrested for a parole violation not long after he stayed with us at our shelter in February. It turns out that one of the requirements of parole is that you provide your parole officer with a verifiable address where you are living. Being homeless kind of makes that difficult. So, Bill violated his parole because he could not provide a permanent address. Essentially, he is back in jail for being homeless.

Bill was writing me to let us know what had happened to him, and to thank us for our kindness when he stayed with us. He was also asking for help. He is hoping to be released in the next few days with time served, and he needs a place to go. Otherwise, he may end up back in the same situation again.

This is when things get difficult for me, because I know that our ministry as it stands currently is not equipped to be able to handle requests like Bill’s. We DON’T have somewhere for him to stay. In fact, there is nowhere in Lansdale that he could stay–not even a boarding house–that doesn’t have some sort of minimum income requirement. These are the times when I feel really helpless. We don’t have the resources or the knowlege to go about helping people in this kind of trouble.

Fortunately, our partner agencies have come through for us again. The Executive Director at CHOC thinks she might be able to find room for him in a permanent shelter, perhaps even at CHOC. The Correctional Facility will release inmates to the shelter if they can guarantee a bed. Once at the shelter, Bill could gain access to government programs that could help get him back on his feet, and will also work with a social worker to re-integrate him into society. It sounds like Bill might actually be able to get the help he needs.

Which led me to another realization–even though the Code Blue season is coming to a close in just a few days, this ministry isn’t over. Not even close. We have built relationships with these men, and we will continue to be in relationship with them, even when the weather is not cold. We may not hear from them regularly. We may not hear from some of them ever again. When we do hear from them, they might be in need. But, they might not. Despite Bill’s need, he was also very gracious and really just wanted us to know what had happened to him. The tone of the letter didn’t indicate that he was really expecting anything–he was just hoping for something better and wanted to tell us about it. If we can do anything to help his situation, then we will, of course.

I will be posting that “end of season” blog in a few days, but I think it is going to have a different tone than I had originally planned. It’s NOT over….

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