Nonprofits in North Texas are working together to try to reach homeless during a stretch of early-summer triple digit heat. In Dallas, OurCalling says more people have been coming to the day shelter to escape the hot weather.
"We have protocols and procedures in place for when it's extra hot or extra cold, we just had to start implementing those about a month earlier than we were expecting," says OurCalling's Ali Hendricksen.
The most recent homeless census showed 4,410 people living without permanent shelter in Dallas and Collin Counties. The Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance says about 1,300 of those do not seek temporary shelter and live on the street.
"When they open that door and that really cold air hits their face, you can tell from that sigh of relief they're in a safe and cool place," Hendricksen says.
OurCalling has extended its hours to accommodate people, but Hendricksen says that will lead to higher electric bills and increased costs for food, staff and security.
She says, despite the increased cost, OurCalling welcomes the additional demand, saying the non-profit has counselors who will work with people to help them find job training, counseling, medical services or rehab.
"We look at ourselves as being a one-stop-shop or the hub where we know all of the opportunities for you," she says.
OurCalling has also launched a "Beat the Heat" campaign where teams are reaching out to the unsheltered homeless. The organization is asking for donations of these items:
Sunblock and lip balm
Sun visors or hats
New and re-usable insulated water bottles
Instant cooling towels (OurCalling’s Search and Rescue team says these are helpful, reusable and much appreciated). Example is Cooling Towel 20 Pack Soft Breathable, Ultra-fine Fiber, Super Absorbent, Fast Evaporation Drying, Quick Cold Towel,
Or make a financial donation at OurCalling.org/heat
Hendricksen says non-profits are working together as they do during the winter to reach people without permanent homes. She says OurCalling will refer people to other organizations based on their needs.
"Our care ministers are sitting down with individuals and saying, 'I'm really glad you're here. I'm glad you're going to spend the next couple hours off the street with us, but let's talk about how you can get off the street permanently," she says.
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