Colder Than You Think - The City Mission of Cleveland, Ohio

When the kind of weather we’re hearing about this week comes, a new compassion for those without shelter often comes with it.  Perhaps you’ve found yourself saying a prayer for the homeless and giving what you can without knowing their stories or seeing their faces.

In the last 4 years I’ve had the privilege to know the stories and see the faces of many men and women who have come to The City Mission for help.  I’ve learned the reality is much colder than I imagined.

Last winter I talked to Darnell, who took shelter from a blizzard in an abandoned car wash only to become trapped by the snow for three days.  Another man was living in a condemned home with no heat.  A month ago, I heard Norine describe needing to find gas money for her and her 9 year old son to be warm enough in the car where they slept.  Another woman, at Laura’s Home right now, recalled the temptation to hurt herself just to feel the warmth of a hospital.

The good news is none of these stories ends in the desperate cold.  These four and many like them received safe shelter from the cold and it kindled new hope.  Not just until the current storm passed, but for the rest of their lives.

Some who come to us for emergency shelter this week will choose to stay longer and take advantage of our learning center, job readiness assistance, on-site mental health services, financial planning classes, advanced culinary and janitorial training, debt elimination assistance and so much more.  All will experience Christ’s love and compassion lived out by our staff. That’s what you provide when you support The City Mission.

Many have asked how they can help during the bitter cold.

Here are a few of the best ways.

Make a donation – The most practical way to help us is by making a monetary gift and we take the responsibility that comes with every donation very seriously.  91% of every dollar goes directly to client services and as a nonprofit organization we’re able make every dollar go farther than most can on their own.  (for example, a full meal for a hungry man or woman costs just $1.90)

Join the conversation – If you’re concerned about those in need during these cold months, chances you know others that are too.  Stay informed, share information, promote we’re doing to help through social networking on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and on our blog.

Share your time – We are looking for great volunteers all year round.  We have a wide variety of long or short term opportunities for both individuals or groups.

Give needed items – Both what we have and what we need changes frequently. Surprisingly what we often need the most during cold weather is personal health and hygiene items and diapers.  These use up these often overlooked items very quickly when the number of those seeking shelter go up.

Become a monthly donor – As I said, the services we offer men and women who come when it’s cold go far past the winter weather.  All year, we open our doors to those who need shelter and compassion while working to prevent anyone from needing to return.  Your monthly support provides a real life-changing opportunities for these men and women throughout the year.

Pray – The prayer supporting us and those we serve cannot be overvalued.  It’s one of things we ask for all year, but especially now when conditions are life-threatening to any without shelter.

If you have any other questions or just want to talk, please send me an email at and let me know.

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