Left Out in the Cold

February 19th, 2015


You all might want to sit down for this truth bomb I am about to drop on you. Ready? Okay.


It’s cold outside.


Like, really cold.


Like, sub-zero tundra. Like, oh-look-there’s-a-yeti kind of cold.


Shocker, right?


For those of you like me who have grown up in this area, you have dealt with this before. Around here, we call a negative 20-degree wind chill factor “a Tuesday in February.”


And, if you are also like me, you spend your cold days sitting in your room watching Netflix with a blanket wrapped around you while sipping hot chocolate (I mean doing homework – because I totally do that).


The cold weather doesn’t mean a whole lot of stress for us, unless we have an 8 a.m. in Dolan and are forced to walk next to the wind tunnel known as Hamlin Quad, or want to go out on Warrensville Center Road on any given Saturday night. But the cold weather does have a serious impact on one group in particular: the homeless.


I have had the opportunity to go on The Labre Project several times now. For those of you who don’t know, Labre is an organization here at John Carroll University that takes food to the homeless every Friday night. Members of Labre go to both East and West Cleveland, and then end up at a church, where the homeless can sleep during the cold hours of the night.


Labre is an incredibly rewarding and humbling experience. I encourage all of you to give up just one Friday night and go and try it. You will not be sorry.


It was extremely cold, this past Friday in particular. After standing outside for just five minutes, I started shivering, even though I was wearing three pairs of pants and two sweatshirts under my coat. As we walked up to a camp, I just couldn’t believe some people live outside in these sorts of conditions.


As I write this, one person comes  to mind. There is one man who lives at the top of a hill overlooking the Cleveland skyline. The first time I went on Labre, I thought of how beautiful a spot it was for this man to live – a thought I am now ashamed ever popped into my head.


This past Friday, as we approached the camp, (fortunately, the man had found somewhere warm to stay for the night) it was nearly impossible to keep steady due to the sub zero wind flying across the open field at horrific speeds, whipping me in the face.


The only thing this man had to keep himself warm from this wind was a blue painters tarp tied between two trees and secured to the ground. There was just enough room inside his tent for him to lie down in a couple of blankets.


Now think for a second. We are so blessed to have these dorm rooms, even if the showers aren’t always the hottest and the beds aren’t always the softest. This man has a tent for a home while we have four walls. We complain about our thermostats not working, while the homeless are at the mercy of nature.


Now, dear readers, I am not trying to make you feel guilty about what you have. It is not your fault that this man is homeless, anymore than it is his fault that you live here. But look at this statistic: According to the 2013 study done by the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, there are 2, 129 homeless people living in Cleveland. Think about that: 2,129 souls live day-to-day looking for a place to sleep and food to eat.


That statistic is staggering, but there are some things that we can do to help this. Again, I encourage everyone to use one Friday night and go on the Labre project. If you can’t, then next time you see a Labre donation box, put something in it. Make a blanket and donate it. Donate anything, really, to any place that helps these people.


Because it is cold.


Really cold.