“You walk around in the woods looking for homeless people? Why would you do that?”
Whenever I’m asked that question, the answer is always easy; because people really live there. Veterans, individuals with mental illness or substance abuse–they all deserve our help.
Through outreach, agencies explore areas of the woods or other abandoned areas in search of homeless individuals who may be in need of services. We reach homeless Veterans who are living on the streets or in the woods and may not be able to access services.
At one point in time, we had a Veteran who was challenging to house. He traveled from state park to state park, sleeping in his vehicle or a tent in the woods. After experiencing medical issues, this veteran agreed to tot secure housing. He moved into an apartment, and SSVF was able to assist him in obtaining the items necessary to live comfortably.
The Scars of Homeless Linger
During routine case management, I asked the Veteran how he was adjusting to his new apartment. His answer was humbling; the clanking from the radiators heating up annoyed him until he related that to the sound of rain splashing off his tent. The noise from the neighbors walking in the hallway would annoy him until he related that to the sounds of small woodland animals walking by his tent in the night. But the biggest moment of relief was when it snowed and he was warmed by radiators rather than using two large candles to stay warm on a cold winter’s night.
Individuals live on the streets and in other abandoned areas. They need our help.
NOTE: This story recounts community outreach through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program in Schuylkill County. Effective October 1, 2022, Opportunity House no longer provides those services in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. Contact Catholic Charities for services in your area.