You may notice that it’s a bit quieter around Old First in the evenings. Those of us who are here daily are definitely noticing the difference in the atmosphere. Our winter shelter for homeless men closed on Friday, April 30th. This means that the guys that we’ve come to know and chat with daily are now chatting with new friends in a new place.0
Do you ever wonder where they go once the winter shelters are closed? In the last weeks of April I talked with several of the guys to see if they had firmed up any plans for themselves. A few of my new friends still didn’t know where they were going the last night of our shelter. Others had family members that they’d negotiated with or apartments that they’d been saving for. One of our older guests that has a few ailments has been struggling for permanent housing for some time. During the last supper, the one that Old First members provided, he told me that he had a bed at Our Brother’s Place and eventually he’ll have a permanent spot somewhere on his own. We are so glad to know that he has somewhere to go. It’s not safe for anyone on the streets, but especially not for someone who has health issues. Another one of the guys has a good paying job and had spent all winter saving his money so that he could afford an apartment this summer. When there was fear of the shelter closing in March, he was worried because he hadn’t saved enough yet. I pray that the last month gave him the time to save enough for his place.
April was a good closing month for our shelter. Old First was able to raise the required funds to maintain the shelter. There was a small surplus, which was given to Bethesda as a gift. (Though there was a great response to this initiative, Old First is carrying the burden of a deficit for this shelter season.) Our shelter guests were grateful that we stayed open the extra four weeks. It meant less stress for them and a bit of security to their unpredictable lives.
We have wished them all well, hoping that each one finds a place to call home.