A Cold Weather Message from C.O.P.E.

Photo: Sushant Bhosale

This weekend’s weather forecast looks bleak, especially for those who call the streets their home. Expected windchill factors could be as low as -23 degrees.

I’m feeling a sense of anxiety and urgency. Not for me, but for our friends who will not have a safe and warm place to go as the wind howls over the cold concrete landscape of Boston.

My thoughts have my mind spinning. My volunteer group, C.O.P.E. (Communities Offer Practical Encouragement), has a lot of cold weather gear to get out and onto the hands, feet and bodies of our most needy and at-risk citizens. I have rented a large SUV  to accommodate our volunteers and our donations. A generous small business here in my small town is paying for the rental.

By 6:00 p.m. I’ll have to get the rental, fill it, organize all the volunteers and hit the streets to hand out what we have. As I think back to just a few nights ago, on our last run, I remember a young man near Boston Medical Center who gratefully accepted a new pair of boots and some socks from us. As he took off his old sneakers with the help of two others, I heard a gasp. When I walked over to see what was wrong, the recipient’s friends told me his socks were frozen onto his feet. With the help of hand warmers, his friends were able to get the old socks off and new ones on along with his new boots. A deep sigh of relief came from all involved. Our new friend, who calls the streets of Boston home, had the biggest, most beautiful smile on his face as he took his first step in his new boots. The temperature that night was considered mild compared to what it will be this weekend. This is why I feel it urgent to hit the streets tonight.

When I was asked to write this article, I had many topics I wanted to focus on. However, today, my only thoughts are to help our friends. I’ll focus more on specific topics at a later date, if I’m allowed. For right now, people need help to stay warm.

Joan Bennett is the founder of C.O.P.E. (Communities Offer Practical Encouragement), a group of volunteers who distribute goods to the homeless.

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