All Saints in McAlester hosted a Day of Caring for Area Homeless and Those at Risk. This event was a culmination of close to twenty community organizations offering varying services throughout the day.
The United States designates one day in the year, this year it happened to be January 23, in order to attempt to take a census of all homeless individuals within each town and surrounding countryside of the county. This count is used to properly allocate government funding for services offered to those who are without shelter of any kind as well as those who live in abandoned buildings, vehicles, etc. — essentially, those at risk of losing what “shelter” they currently have. Problems arise, however, because of the difficulty to have one day in which to capture a numerical figure for those who take shelter in outlying sheds and wooded areas and may not come into town for this single day in which to be counted.
McAlester organizations including Ki Bois, Caring Hands Healthcare, Shared Blessings, CREOKS, Hope House, Profession Counseling Services, Good Samaritan Outreach, Dow Baptist Church, The Gate, Adult Protective Services, and members of the All Saints Parish organized task force groups responsible for various touch points with the homeless clients who came in for the day.
Such touch points included: dental care, blood checks for pre- and diabetic patients, addiction counseling, flu shots, opportunities for job placement, mental health counseling services, spiritual counseling and direction, offering haircuts, fingernail and toenail clipping. Also available was offering pre-packed backpacks with canned foods, socks for men, women, and children, flashlights, underwear, feminine hygiene products, beanie caps, t-shirts, soap, shampoo, and other snacks, blankets, scarves, mittens, coats, and other clothing and shoe items.
While the clients registered with the services and were included with the National Homeless Count, they also enjoyed home cooked chili and all the fixings as well as homemade desserts. Many were able to take packaged bowls of chili home with them.
Finally, the clients took care boxes with them which included bottles of water, more canned and non-perishable foods.
There were 66 individuals who were helped in this first event, several took refuge in shelters and got off the streets, a family was given asylum from a severe domestic abuse situation, 24 haircuts, 21 flu shots, and approximately 25 more are being processed at this moment to get off the streets into housing shelter.
This hugely successful event was a significant testimony of the Holy Spirit’s power in burdening individuals and organizations to see a horrific need in the McAlester community, come together with mercy and hope, and reach out skills and talents to meet this need. This is an event that will continue each year as we need to ensure an accurate count for the national records so that these in crisis receive the care and support they so deserve.
Written by Mother Janie Koch
Vicar of All Saints', McAlester