Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Approaching Season

The weather is turning. This morning I actually had to debate whether or not to wear a hoodie when I went to the grocery store. The leaves will be changing soon and the days will get shorter and if you are homeless, maybe you are considering if you are going to migrate somewhere warmer or stick around the Flathead. Some people will continue in homelessness while others will find themselves facing it for the first time for a myriad of reasons.

At Samaritan House, we want to do our best to provide some guidelines that will hopefully be helpful whether or not you are chronically or newly homeless or whether you are staying in Kalispell or leaving for warmer locations.

If circumstances have rendered you homeless, you will find yourself having to stand in long lines, answer uncomfortable questions, and possibly even face the disapproving glares of passers-by as you begin sorting through various social services.

Do not be disheartened or embarrassed by these realities, and learn to overcome your pride whenever it stands in the way of improving your situation. After all, many people that opine about homelessness have never experienced it, and therefore have no idea what it is really like to be homeless. Don’t be embarrassed about your situation and refuse to seek out and accept help from others.

Sometimes, help doesn’t come as quickly as would ideally be the case, and people out on the streets with nowhere to go should prepare themselves for whatever situation may present itself, especially poor meteorological conditions. There is nothing worse than being homeless during the winter months, and having a notion of how to protect yourself from the elements will be key to your survival. Consider the following steps:

·         Dress with as many layers as possible. Put the thinnest layers, like an undershirt, closest to your skin, and keep the thickest layers, like a winter coat, on the very outside.

·         This applies to pants and socks as well. Tuck in as many of the layers as possible into your pants, except for your outer coat.

·         Cover your head with a thick hat; somewhere around 80% of the body’s heat is lost through the top of the head, so cover it!

·         Stay dry at all costs, as getting wet—especially with so many layers—can leach the warmth right out of your body.

·         Seek shelter, and remember that Samaritan House is only a phone call or visit away.

Beyond all these measures, it’s important never to lose heart: many people get stuck in the condition of homeless because they enter a vicious cycle of depression and substance abuse. Keep yourself proactive, and allow other people to help you—though do not allow yourself to be taken advantage of.