CITY BEAT: WARM BODIES AND WARM HEARTS PROTECT THE HOMELESS ON FRIGID NIGHTS
Last Thursday something happened so positive that, as I left the WSOY studios following my weekly appearance on Byers & Co., I had a really warm feeling in my heart, despite the extremely cold temperature when I walked out of the building. The Salvation Army’s Emergency Cold Cot Program was out of money and could not keep going despite the real need with the temperature dropping to sub-zero levels. What happened to solve the problem? This wonderful community once again stepped up to fill a need — because that’s what the people of Decatur and Central Illinois do so well. Brian Byers did what he has always done so well — make people aware of the need and they responded BIG TIME!!!
The Howard G. Buffett Foundation pledged a challenge grant of $10,000 if funds could be raised to that amount. So, how much was raised? Over $50,000 because people wanted to help those who needed a warm place to stay the night! It costs $150 per night for the Salvation Army to operate the shelter (including two meals) so the amount raised will provide the needed assistance on cold nights for years to come — thanks to the caring people who contributed to help others.
The fundraiser was done in conjunction with the United Way of Decatur and Mid-Illinois (President Debbie Bogle is one of the most caring people I know) and a lot of fellow citizens from all walks of life. The emergency shelter provides overnight housing for the homeless during severe cold. If there was no place for them, it could be a life or death situation. With an early winter, the emergency shelter had to open a month earlier than normal. This caused a shortage of funds which would have closed the emergency shelter starting last Friday and through the duration of this winter. Thanks to all who volunteered and donated to this effort.
Thanks also to Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe and the city council for approving a $2,500 donation to the effort to help the homeless stay warm. A special thanks also to The Salvation Army for their work and the organization’s impact for good in our community and so many other places. I have personally seen lives changed because of their mission and effort. May God continue to bless them as they have blessed so many others. All of you sure make me proud to live in Decatur, Illinois — where so many caring people live. Your generosity not only warms the homeless at the shelter in the cold of winter, but also warms the hearts of those who are inspired by it.
• A BAG OF SOUP! I was walking back to the office with a flatiza and a bowl of broccoli and cheese soup from Subway on North Park Thursday when I slipped on the ice near the drive-through lanes at Busey Bank and went down like a sack of potatoes, for my annual Olympic-caliber fall on the ice! Since I was bundled up against the sub-zero cold wind I had a lot of padding on and didn’t get injured — at least as far as I know.
The flatiza for my office manager (the soup was for me) didn’t escape damage. When she examined the contents of the box it had suffered extreme “tiza trauma”. The soup ended up in the plastic bag after the lid on the bowl came off in the fall. There was a positive: I discovered a new product — soup in a bag! However, I don’t recommend it.
• IT WAS great to see long-time friend Dr. John C. Lee, on Friday. He has been my ophthalmology specialist in Decatur for over 40 years, as he was to my father, and is to my oldest son. I have great respect and admiration for Dr. Lee and the tremendous effort he makes in informing, and testing, the public for present or potential eye problems. It was also great to see Lorrie Durbin, Dr. Lee’s office manager, who has been with Dr. Lee for 41 years. She is also extremely knowledgeable and caring. My father had macular degeneration which greatly diminished his ability to see in his latter years, so I want to make sure I didn’t inherit that problem. I want Dr. Lee to keep an “eye” on my eyes. Everything looked pretty good, so I walked out of his office again with a good news feeling.
Except for the fall (and loss of my bowl of soup) last week was full of many positive experiences for me in the city I love.
• WHO SAYS YOU can’t take it with you? Check out this week’s “Viewpoint” on page 3 of the print and online editions of the Decatur Tribune for a possible exception to that rule.
I join Brian Byers on the “City Hall Insider” hour on WSOY’s Byers & Co., each Thursday morning starting at 7:00. Thanks so much for all of your positive comments about the program. I’ve enjoyed talking about Decatur issues with Brian for the past 17 years.