On any given night, one in 217 people in Los Angeles will be homeless. Whether they’ll be sleeping on the streets, on a park bench or underneath some bridge, the situation – even if the background of each member of the homeless community is different – is the same. They are in need of shelter, and if not a refuge, care.
Men, women and children of all ages regardless of age, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion are in need of food, medical care, and in the case of babies – nappies. A program is also necessary for some of these people to get back on their feet; to resume some normality or purpose to their lives.
To help the poor find self-worth, The Midnight Mission steps in. It is a charitable and voluntary organisation that makes it it’s business to reach out to the homeless community, providing food, care and shelter. It has been operating for over 100 years from 1914. Back then, the homeless population consisted of a small group of men in search of a hot nutritional meal and a place to hit the sack.
Times have changed out of all proportion, and dramatically, so much so, that this diverse community has reached a crisis point.
The Mission notably runs a Courtyard Outreach Program, a one-of-a-kind rescue operation enacted by its staff, who help the most chronically homeless individuals on Skid Row take back their lives.
The Courtyard is monitored 24/7 to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the Mission’s guests. The Courtyard helps to break the cycle of homelessness as it’s staff identifies the community’s most vulnerable people and creates a bridge for them to access its vital services which help each homeless individual to survive and find meaning or purpose in their lives.
Each day thousands of people walk through the Mission’s doors in need of basic human necessities which the rest of us take for granted. The organisation distributes Hygiene kits such as soap, toothpaste and a toothbrush. Families that need groceries may also receive a box of tinned and other non-perishable food items. Nappies are also available for parents who are either homeless or on low incomes and have young children.
Bathrooms on Skid Row (a luxury for the homeless community) are scarce. The Midnight Mission is one of only three facilities that allow 24-hour access to restrooms and showers. Emergency clothing is also readily available, which gives people a renewed sense of self-worth and belonging within their community, along with connections to mental and physical health care services and housing resources.
I thought I’d highlight this problem in one of the US’s major cities since I’ve chatted to a person online who has lived and worked in LA and has several times intimated how serious the homeless problem is there.
The Midnight Mission has faced a challenging year during 2016. Given the gloomy political outlook, it looks as though 2017 will be no less challenging for the charity to meet it’s needs and objectives.
By David Butterworth
OMP Admin Note: David Butterworth is a writer and OMP Network member – one of a group of networkers who will be blogging on a regular basis on various causes and issues.
David’s flash fiction will be available in Volume 4 of BITE SIZE STORIES (coming December 2016)
For the start of this series and other guest writers, follow these links: