We generally hesitate saying that Siena/Francis House may have saved somebody’s life.
But that’s the only conclusion I can come to, after our staff went looking for and found a very confused woman – Christina, pictured above – who was outdoors for several hours in fourteen degrees below zero weather one recent afternoon. When we found Christina she was wearing only a zip-up sweatshirt, jeans and tennis shoes. No coat, hat, gloves or anything else to keep her warm. She was nearly frozen.
These terrible cold winters hit the homeless hard, especially those who suffer from mental illness and who may not realize the dangerous nature of these extremely low temperatures. Christina is one of those persons.
When the temperature passed the -5 degree mark earlier that day, our staff went into emergency mode to make sure all homeless persons got inside, somewhere warm and safe. In the middle of the afternoon, two of our male staff members were doing their hourly campus security check when they got a call from the front desk. An anonymous caller reported that a very underdressed woman was seen wandering in the sub-zero weather a few blocks north of our shelter.
Because Christina would likely freeze to death that night if she wasn’t found, our guys immediately stopped what they were doing and walked north. They scoured every street and alley they came upon. No sign of Christina. After searching for more than an hour, the guys were starting to lose hope of finding her. They also started to wonder if the phone call we’d received might have been a hoax. Still they kept searching.
Very late that afternoon, the guys had just finished searching an abandoned building for Christina, with no success. Daylight was fading and the temperature was plummeting. Just before sunset, they came upon a small, secluded public park. By this time they’d been searching for nearly two hours and they were becoming numb from the cold themselves. They seriously contemplated giving up, but decided to head into the park anyway.
After a few minutes of looking around, one of our staff saw a figure sitting motionless beneath some bushes at the far end of the park. They ran over and, sure enough, there sat Christina. Her hands were stuffed into her jacket, her head covered only by the thin hood. Christina was so confused that she could barely understand that these two men were there to help her.
Our guys immediately called 911, and Christina was taken to a nearby medical clinic, where she was treated for frostbite and hypothermia. Very late that night, Christina was ready to be released. The clinic staff called Siena Francis House, asking if Christina could be given shelter. Even though we were already well overcapacity in our women’s shelter, we moved some guests around and made room for her. Christina has been here since that time.
In addition to providing Christina with food and shelter, our staff also connected her with a local organization that helps her better manage her mental illness. Ultimately, we’d like to help Christina achieve housing out in the community. We realize she would need to have plenty of ongoing support to help to manage her illness, but regardless, that is our goal.
As the days and nights get colder, more and more hungry and desperate persons find themselves on our doorstep, in need of something to eat and a warm place to lay their head. Last night, nearly 500 homeless individuals stayed in our shelter and were thankful for a hot meal and a place to sleep, away from the bitter cold.
Will you please give a gift to Siena Francis House Homeless Shelter at this time? Your donation will help care for this very vulnerable woman, Christina, and others like her. Siena Francis House tries to never turn anyone away, and we are dedicated to providing life’s basic necessities to the tremendous number of people experiencing homelessness, and who come to us seeking assistance. To a person, these people are SO grateful to our staff for our life-saving assistance. We always let them know, however, that our services are only made possible because of the support from caring people from our community who share our mission of helping those in need.
You can make your secure, online donation by clicking HERE. Winter is our slowest time for gifts. As such, we truly need your help to provide food, shelter, clothing and safety to the nearly 500 hungry and homeless persons show up at our door every day, like Christina, and to the nearly 4,000 unique individuals we’ll serve over the course of a year.
Please know how grateful we are to you for helping Siena Francis House provide these basic human services to the poor and homeless when they have nowhere else to turn. Please also know that these services are only possible because of your generous financial support. Nearly all of the contributions to our homeless shelter come from compassionate members of our community, like you.
God bless you for your sustained support, and I wish you well during these cold winter months.
P.S. We are in our busiest time of the year. Many hundreds of cold, hungry and homeless people seek food, shelter and safety every day. Please send your gift to Siena Francis House right away, as our organization exists and operates almost entirely on charitable donations. Please click HERE to make your secure, online gift today!
Gifts to Siena Francis House are used to provide food, shelter, clothing, and care of the people who turn to us during their hour of need, and are greatly appreciated. All of our services are provided at no cost to our guests. All gifts to Siena Francis House are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. Our audited financial statements are freely available by writing to Siena Francis House, P.O. Box 217 DTS – Omaha, Nebraska – 68101. Our donor information is kept in strict confidence; our donor lists are never rented, shared, or exchanged with other organizations. The stories in our letters are real. Identifying details have been changed and file photos may be used to protect the privacy and therapeutic interest of our guests. For more information about Siena Francis House or to include us in your estate planning, please contact Siena Francis House Development Director, Tim Sully at (402) 341-1821.