While many in our community will soon be enjoying family celebrations and warm traditional foods, others will be experiencing the farthest thing from the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” This time of the year is full of worry for those without homes. Worry about the deadly threat of hypothermia, crowded shelters, and a higher incidence of illness. During the holidays, people experiencing homelessness often do not have a safe and warm bed to sleep in, let alone a place to celebrate, cook festive favorites, and practice seasonal traditions. Instead, the season is full of triggering experiences that bring on trauma from the past.
The issue of homelessness will always be a priority for the Community Impact Coalition, not only because of its importance as a community concern but also because often homelessness goes hand in hand with substance use disorder. Those experiencing homelessness are statistically more likely to have a substance use disorder. The National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) has found that 38% of people experiencing homelessness are alcohol dependent, and 26% are dependent on other substances. Addiction is often a result of homelessness. The treacherous conditions of living on the street, like finding the next meal and being separated from loved ones, cause many to seek the temporary relief that substances bring.
If we can provide aid to those experiencing homelessness, like Youth Services System’s Winter Freeze Shelter does, we might be able to prevent some from ever reaching for substances to dull their suffering.
So as the season goes on, remember that homelessness is a year-round problem, even if it might be more apparent with the onset of cold weather. It is the season of giving, so consider lending a hand at a local shelter or simply donating accessible items like pop-top canned goods and non-perishable foods that don’t require heating or any extra ingredients. Every small contribution can affect visible change in the community and make the holiday a little less taxing on those in need.
If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness, help can be found at the Greater Wheeling Coalition for the Homeless.
Their contact information is listed below.
Greater Wheeling Coalition for the Homeless
84 Fifteenth Street
Wheeling, WV 26003