In our daily lives, we have much to be grateful for, too many things to list. So many things in fact, we rarely say we are thankful for the basics of life and move on to being grateful for the “extras” we enjoy. There are those amongst us who would just be grateful for the basics: a roof over their heads, clothes, food and lately, heat.
If you are reading Navarre Press, you know that we have more than 1,000 students in Santa Rosa County schools who fall within the homeless definition. And more than 40 of those are unaccompanied, meaning they are not living with a parent or guardian. We have adults that are living without basics even if there is a roof over their heads. And we have homeless that are living without any of that, often sleeping in a patch of woods.
If we know anything, it’s that Navarre is a community of people who take action when they see a problem. It is all over social media; someone’s house burns down and before you know it, the family involved has received clothing, furniture, groceries and gift cards. Someone else’s child goes missing and parents are sharing the information, talking to their kids and not long after the child is found. A son’s bicycle gets stolen and the next day he has a new one. All of this work is from strangers who care about the people in their community. They don’t necessarily know the people they are helping but they care enough to do something about the problem. Without realizing it, they are life-changers. They create a sense of hope and promise for those in need who are facing the worst of circumstances. Navarre is a true community.
We hope the problem we are bringing forward is no exception to the rule of our community acting on a problem. This will take more people, some space and a commitment but we believe this problem can be solved. The problem, and it is a profound problem, is that we have no cold-weather shelter in Navarre – or anywhere in south county for that matter. Ferris Hill Baptist Church in Milton is the only shelter in the county. You can read more about their mission on our Faith & Family page (B7) in this issue. They offer a warm meal and a warm place to sleep for those in need. And because we don’t have a shelter, it means that people in Navarre are sleeping out in the elements in the freezing cold temperatures, or near-freezing. People are huddled up inside their homes trying to stay warm because they have no heat. It probably even includes some of the 1,000 or more homeless students that must suffer through the cold to get up and go to school the next morning feeling cold and tired, and maybe even hungry.
We know that the same people that jump to the rescue on social media can also solve this problem as well. We know a few churches in the area that have the space, and what church would not want to open their doors for a cause such as this – and we know with our population, we have enough people to volunteer their time to invite the cold ones in and offer them warmth for a night at a shelter. So, your challenge is to ask your church, ask your friends, ask the strangers on social media to join the cause. Rise up Navarre – we can make this happen!
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ ” Matthew 25:40