Jack Read, Volunteer & In Kind Coordinator at Thrive DC, says that you can help in the heat by “carrying sunscreen with you, you’d be surprised how many of our clients would ask a stranger for a simple tube of sunblock. When people think about being asked for something by someone on the street, most of the time people assume money or food. Carrying sunscreen can be a really huge thing for someone” and that it’s important to “try not to assume what people need or will ask for.”
Heat exhaustion symptoms: general weakness, increased heavy sweating, a weak but faster pulse or heart rate, nausea or vomiting, possible fainting, pale, cold, clammy skin
Heat stroke symptoms: elevated body temperature above 103F (39.4C), rapid and strong pulse or heart rate, loss or change of consciousness, hot, red, dry, or moist skin
Alicia Horton, Executive Director at Thrive DC, shares that; “it’s most important that people are aware and that if you see someone on the street who looks like they may be in danger of heat exhaustion or heat related stress/illness than call an ambulance or the shelter hotline so they can get to a cooling center or hospital. There are cooling centers and different facilities available in the city where folks can get out of the heat and stay healthy from what can be pretty torturous summers in this area.”
Horton says, “it’s always interesting to me when people don’t associate the same kinds of weather related dangers in the summertime as people do in the wintertime. I think it’s really important that people understand that it’s just as dangerous for folks who are unsheltered or homeless when the weather hits extreme heat temperatures.”
“I honestly worry a little bit more about clients in the summertime because sometimes I don’t even think they realize the danger. When it’s cold, it’s more obvious and people seek shelter but when it’s hot people think they may be okay or don’t hydrate sufficiently. A lot of times, people will continue to wear clothes that they don’t want to lose. So then they’re very layered which is dangerous in high heat and there are not as many resources available when it’s hot.
I want to impress upon people how dangerous it is and how important it is for folks to have opportunities for respite from the heat.”
You can find cooling centers near you by using the Interactive Map of Cooling Centers in the District.
“We help to prepare our clients for dangerously hot weather and exposure to the sun with sunblock/sunscreen and visors; some of these things we all take for granted during the summertime”, says Horton.
“Even things like sunglasses can be very important for somebody, particularly our senior clients when it’s really bright outside. Lighter wear clothing that we can make available is always nice to have on hand like a good white t-shirt. There’s nothing better than a nice clean white t-shirt. Another thing that we go through a lot of are towels and washcloths. People want something to relieve from sweat so it’s harder to keep in stock during the Summer since they go fast.”
Jack Read, Volunteer and In-Kind Coordinator at Thrive DC, shares that, “Sunscreen is THE thing and we need all types and SPF’s. Our clients use sunscreen for different reasons, sometimes it’s as simple as skin dryness since it also doubles as lotion and is easy to carry. We also need goldbond foot powder. We need it year round but especially in the summer because our clients are walking in the heat and their feet are getting sweaty just like ours do. Foot powder is huge because it helps cuts down on discomfort and odor, a small but crucial item. The other one and this is genuinely huge: flip flops. We’ll take new and gently used if they’re in very good condition. It’s too hot to be wearing some of the shoes we provide clients during the winter.”
If you’re interested in volunteering or how to get your group involved, email Jack at firstname.lastname@example.org. To volunteer at Thrive DC, there are just a few simple steps: sign up for a volunteer orientation that works with your schedule on our website, come to the orientation, complete a background check, and last but not least- start volunteering with us!
As temperatures drop, take action to help a community member experiencing homelessness this season.
Here are 5 tangible ways to support someone experiencing homelessness, share this information with friends, family, and co-workers.
1. Call the Hypothermia hotline
During hypothermia season, DC guarantees a legal right to shelter and although this gets complicated when putting the construction of shelters across all 8 wards after the closing of DC General—this is a tangible and quick way to help a neighbor in need of a warm place to stay. You can call: 311 or 202-319-7093. There is a free pick up service for those needing transportation to a shelter or day center that operates 24/7, 7 days a week.
We all need a warm, safe place to go during the holidays and winter months. Lend a hand and ensure someone is able to get warm at a day center in the District or have a place to stay at a shelter. The District is one of only three jurisdictions in the country with a right to shelter year-round, you can find more information here.
On the first hypothermia alert of the season, a woman died from exposure to the cold near union station. No one should die without the dignity of a home. Unfortunately, she was one of 54 people experiencing homelessness who died in 2018. That's absolutely unacceptable, housing saves lives. We must keep putting pressure on policy makers and show up for each other locally for continued change.
2. Show up & Advocate
As more bills go into the hands of council members for voting, we can play a role in ensuring they know we support permanent supportive housing and expanded funding for homeless services. We’re proud to be a partnering non-profit with The Way Home Campaign: Ending Chronic Homelessness in DC and regularly show up to community advocacy events, door knocking at the Wilson Building, and support our fellow non-profits through hosting our Ward 1 Networking Group.
You can learn more and get connected with advocacy opportunities with our staff by emailing Kira at email@example.com or Mariah at firstname.lastname@example.org. Kira spearheads our young professionals and Ward 1 networking group and Mariah keeps us connected to local policy/advocacy events and regularly attends events on behalf of Thrive DC.
In 2018, our community saw several victories with the recent bill passing for public restrooms and the downtown services center opening at the end of January at the New York Presbyterian Church. Let’s show up for each other and continue this momentum in 2019, there is much more work to be done.
3. Host a coat drive or donate cold weather gear
Every year we host Winter Warmth Days for our clients and neighbors who need cold weather gear to keep them safe from the elements throughout the winter. You can drop off new or gently used coats, gloves, scarves, sleeping bags, or blankets to our office (Monday-Friday from 9am-noon, 1pm-5pm) and at any United Bank location in the District!
If you’re interested in hosting a coat drive at your work or place of worship, you can find more information here. You can also support our clients by directly sending us socks and multi-packs of gloves by visiting our Amazon wishlist.
4. Volunteer with us
The opportunities above require a brief orientation prior to volunteering, to go over what the programs are like, how to best interact with clients, and to walk through your first day of volunteering. If you’re ready to volunteer, sign up for an orientation.
Thrive DC is one of the few programs that allows elementary school age volunteers to work directly with our clients. However, this is only during the Evening Program and it is up to the discretion of the parent whether or not their child is ready for the experience. For the Morning Program we require that volunteers be at least 14 years old. Volunteers that are under 16 years old must come with a parent or guardian. Volunteers that are 16-17 years old can volunteer by themselves, but must have a Parent Permission Form filled out.
All volunteers 18 years old and over must complete a background check before volunteering, unless they are part of a group. If you have any questions, visit our FAQ page or email Jack at email@example.com
Money goes a long way in supporting your neighbors during the winter season. You put your trust in us when you give to Thrive DC. Because of you, we’re able to help our neighbors when they need us most. We keep overhead costs low with a small staff and over 2,000 volunteers a year. As a result, more than 86 cents of every dollar donated to Thrive DC goes directly to comprehensive services for our clients!