In winter 2010, there came a terrible snowstorm that closed businesses and slowed traffic for several days. Other employees at Food and Shelter were having difficulties getting to work, and since I lived closer than most of them, I decided to walk to Food and Shelter and open up the dining room and kitchen even before my scheduled shift, as I knew the homeless would have nowhere else to go and this would be the time of their direst need.
I arrived at Food and Shelter at about 7:30 a.m., and along the way, I met G stumbling across the railroad tracks at Eufaula Street and I helped him into the building. He was shivering, on the verge of hypothermia, with red swollen hands and feet and a splint in his leg that exasperated the situation by becoming a superconductor of the cold.
I searched through the clothes closet and gave him some dry clothes to wear. I entertained the idea of calling the paramedics, but decided to wait and see how he thawed out. I had to open the business for other clients, so I shoveled snow from the doors and pried them open to allow access. I phoned my supervisor, Kacey, to let her know I was on the job, and she arranged for the Food and Shelter residents to help me with other tasks that would need to be done throughout the course of the day. A couple of hours into the morning, D reminded me, “Where’s Mike?”
Horrified, I realized he had been out all night in the snowstorm and had not come in like he usually did. I told my volunteers to mind the store while I went out to look for him, hoping I would not find him as a discarded lump in the snow. I had an idea where he might be, since he seldom traveled very far, and it was with relief I found him in an alcove of a building he was using as a windbreak while he was smoking a cigarette.