Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Al Tysick's Dandelion Society Braces for Extreme Weather. #yyj

VICTORIA, January 14 - Rev. Al Tysick is bracing to help those living outside prepare for increasingly cold nights in Victoria. An extreme weather alert was issued last Tuesday, January 8, for Victoria, and continues.

Tysick and his Dandelion Society volunteers are already up before dawn every weekday morning with a team of volunteers to greet the homeless, provide them with coffee and a muffin, and make sure they made it through the night. With rain in this week’s forecast and temperatures dipping below freezing, Tysick’s team is preparing for some of the harshest nights this winter.

The Cold can be Deadly

“The colder it gets, the more clearly you can see the havoc that homelessness wreaks on the body,” says Tysick. “You witness the hacking coughs, you can hear the pneumonia settling into people’s chests. People are in desperate need of anything that might keep them safe, dry and warm throughout the night in subzero temperatures.” While most shelters make additional room during extreme weather alerts, many homeless are still sleeping outside.

“The freezing temperatures are one thing,” he says. “But the rain is what really does it. Wet weather sticks to your bones. It stays with you all day and night, unless you can completely dry out and heat up, which is difficult to do. If you’re damp when you go to sleep in freezing weather, your clothes can literally freeze.”

The Dandelion Society does an overload of blanket runs this time of year, offering a lot of additional care before the sun even rises. “The most heartbreaking thing is when you see someone made it through the night without anything,” he reflects. “Just last week I woke someone up who lasted the night outside without a blanket, sleeping on freezing, damp cement. I honestly didn’t know if he’d wake up.”

How the Public can Help

Tysick is clear when asked what the community can do. "If you want to help, just think what you would provide for your own child, or elderly parent, or friend, if they were out in the cold. We’re asking for anything that might help others make it through a night on freezing streets. Warm, thick materials that wick away moisture are key for winters in this city. They could save someone's life, or at least make it far more bearable during this hard season." 

Finally, donations are welcome via the Dandelion Society’s website at hopeliveshere.ca. Rev. Al will use these donations efficiently to buy durable winter gear in bulk, stretching the donated dollar even further.

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