This Outreach Worker Is Helping The Homeless Overcome Freezing Weather

USATODAY_HumankindPublished: March 26, 2018
Published: March 26, 2018

Have you ever thought about whether you could survive outdoors even for a few days in sub-zero temperatures, day and night? As freezing air has settled over Central Indiana, agencies working with the homeless people are in a race to save lives.
Melissa Burgess is an outreach worker for the Horizon House day shelter. She is on the streets almost every day and most nights checking on the welfare of people who live off the grid. It is when the temperature drops, Melissa knows she is needed more than ever.

“The worse the weather gets the harder we work because it is a matter of life or death. The hardest thing for living out here is sometimes is like when it gets really cold and you do not have a place to be inside.”

Melissa has a ready supply of hand warmers, blankets and gloves, thermal underwear, hats, tampons and water in the back of their donated van to distribute as needed. She is also there to help while also assessing any critical needs — mental health issues, substance abuse or injuries.

“Some folks just are not comfortable being indoors and that is where our role is to come in and just make sure they are going to survive through the night, survive through the day.”

The invisible people are always happy to see Melissa, and she loves letting people know that someone cares for them.

“Whether they are sleeping on the streets or they are sleeping in houses, people are people. A simple ‘Hello, how are you doing?’ can open up the door for a conversation.”

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