That was the reality for our neighbors living on the streets and in the woods 15 years ago, when two men froze to death in Fairfax County. Our founder Linda Wimpey, said "never again" and began working with the Salvation Army, Fairfax County and a few of our faith partners to open emergency hypothermia prevention shelters on the coldest days of winter.
Today, with the compassionate support of our 50 faith partners, people experiencing homelessness have a much more than a safe warm place to sleep each night as the churches open not just their doors, but their arms and their hearts every night this winter. They serve delicious home-cooked meals, provide evening entertainment and spend time getting to know their guests as neighbors.
Your gift to FACETS means that we can have caring, skilled Case Managers attend the churches each night, forming what our founder Linda Wimpey called "a connection of the heart" with our guests, earning the trust and respect needed to help them move from homeless to "home."
Folks experiencing homelessness will tell you that there are many challenges to this life - the weather is difficult all year round, but even tougher in the bitter cold of winter. Being hungry is hard, wondering where your next meal might come from as your stomach rumbles makes every day a test of survival. But the worst is how you become "invisible" when you live on the street. People look past you or cross the street to avoid you. No one asks you how your day is or if you need help.
But, from the Sunday after Thanksgiving until the morning of April 1st all of that changes, as your support gives our clients a warm place to spend the night, delicious food and most importantly the feeling of being part of a family for that week. Their eyes meet the eyes of a church volunteer who asks if they'd like a second slice of pie. They are joined for dinner by folks who really want to know how their day was, if they need a warm jacket or pair of socks and listen to the story of their lives. For many, it's the moment that changes everything...and for that we are truly, deeply grateful.
So far this year with the help of our faith partners, volunteers and you our generous donors, we have welcomed 211 people to our Hypothermia Prevention Program. We have helped 10 people begin their transition from homeless to home and 4 of our neighbors in need are now safely and permanently housed.
On behalf of the many, many people who will need not just a place to come out of the cold, but a place to come into the light of a new day and a new home, thank you...