The woman in the alley (2/2)

I was still pretty concerned about Jane as it was already snowing that evening and a lot of snow was predicted for later that night.

And it was just plain cold.

One of my rules for myself while working with our clients was to never show that I felt cold, even if I was freezing. No complaining, no shivering, no chattering teeth. I figured that if they were outside all day and/or were going to be out all night, I could bear any weather for a few hours without complaining.

But this night, as I squatted in the alley talking with Jane, it was tough to keep my body from shivering even with my layers and layers of warm clothing. Frankly, it was a bit difficult to resist the urge to climb into Jane’s cozy collection of blankets where it did look significantly warmer.

Continue reading “The woman in the alley (2/2)”

The woman in the alley (1 of 2)

A few weeks ago, I mentioned an incident where I ended up in a dark alley with a dead car battery on a frigid night during a street outreach shift. Here is the whole story.

It was November, back in the days when our agency used to drive people to the emergency shelters that opened only when the temperature was below 25 degrees or the snow was falling abundantly.

There was a new client around at this time whom we were just getting to know. We’ll call her Jane, and she was drawing a lot of attention to herself because she had set up a tent in an alley downtown. Not only that, but she was living in said tent right through the beginning of the Colorado winter, and right in the middle of the city where average citizens were not spared the discomfort of having to witness her struggle.

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Getting sober – Part 3

Thankfully, Larry made it through those two nights. He came back to the shelter after the consequence was up and he apologized for his behavior.

When spring started taking the place of winter and the snow melted away and didn’t come back, our shelter closed for the season. It was tough to be there on one of the last nights and to look around at all the people who took refuge there, and to know that they would all be without a place to sleep in a few days.

I asked Larry where he would be staying after the shelter closed, and he shook his head sadly.

“I don’t know, honey,” he said, “wherever I can, I guess.”

Continue reading “Getting sober – Part 3”

Getting sober – Part 2

Winter arrived shortly after the incident at the church and suddenly life on the streets became a higher-stakes game, as did our ability to provide services to folks who had no place to live.

When Larry turned up at our overnight shelter about a month later, the weather was taking a toll on him and he didn’t look good.

He had been sleeping outside and was back to drinking. He didn’t have much body fat to insulate him from the cold and it was clear from looking at him that the last month hadn’t been a good time for him.

Continue reading “Getting sober – Part 2”