Warmer Weather is Here!

I received a notice from Facebook that over 2500 people had not heard from Crossroads for a while.  I’m glad I receive those reminders or it might be longer before anyone hears from us. I don’t mean for it to happen that way, but most often the days go by so quickly that it’s hard to keep up!

We’re getting ready for warmer weather.  What am I talking about!  Warmer weather is already here!  Our biggest concern is keeping the homeless hydrated. Many of the homeless are out in the elements and don’t think about drinking water.  Some drink alcohol and that makes it so much easier to become dehydrated.  We don’t want anyone to die from dehydration but here in the desert it is a real possibility!  You don’t have to be homeless to forget to stay hydrated.  If your lips become chapped, you are most likely needing water.  Sugary drinks do not help that much.  You can help us pass the word that the shelters are cooling off facilities and so is the Crossroads Mission Thrift Store at 550 West 8th Street.  Stop by any of these locales, cool off and get some water.  We’re here to help!  Here are some tips on dehydration and hydration:

Why is Hydration Important?

Most of your body is made up of water, so it is important to maintain a good level of hydration in order to keep your body functioning properly. Water is essential for a variety of processes that keep us healthy, including regulating body temperature, removing toxins through urine, controlling heart rate and blood pressure, protecting organs and tissues, and transporting nutrients and oxygen. Neglecting to replenish your fluids can lead to several short-term and long-term negative health effects.

Dehydration

Dehydration occurs when you do not consume enough water to keep your fluid levels balanced. You lose water from your body every minute just from regular breathing, sweating, or using the restroom. You can be at risk for dehydration even if you are not engaging in vigorous activities.

 Be cautious of these signs and symptoms of dehydration:

  • a dry or sticky mouth or tongue
  • dark-colored urine or a lack of urine
  • dizziness, nausea, headaches
  • dry skin, including chapped lips

 Tips for Staying Hydrated:

  • Keep a water bottle with you at all times and sip it throughout the day.
  • Make it a habit to drink a glass of water after you wake up.
  • Include low-sodium soups in your meals.
  • Be aware of changes in your environment, such as drier climates, that may cause your body to lose more water.
  • Make sure that you are well hydrated before engaging in activities that will cause your body to lose water.

The amount of water a body needs will be different for every person and will depend on that individual’s day-to-day activities and overall lifestyle. Be mindful of how your body functions and any changes you notice, and do not ignore signs of dehydration.

You can find more information at wedmd.com at this link:  https://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-diet-dehydration

If you or your club or organization would like to donate bottled water to help Crossroads, please contact Barbara Rochester at 928-580-4482.

God bless you!

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A Typical Day At The Hub Of The Mission

Hungry, dirty, tired, emotionally and spiritually bankrupt, that’s who we serve.  Crossroads Mission is a “Rescue” mission.  We are 911 for the homeless and the addicted.  We are emergency responders for the people who have lost their way and are entrapped by drugs, alcohol, homeless, joblessness, and mental illness.

With the all of the departments, programs and services that help people make changes to their lives; the kitchen is the center-point of change.  The day begins early for kitchen staff—4 AM as a matter of fact!  Clients who are enrolled in the Joy of Being Sober (JOBS) training program arrive shortly after that and so the day begins.  Breakfast must be prepared and is serviced at 6 AM; followed by lunch at 11:30; followed by dinner at 4:45 PM; the kitchen closes after cleanup at 7 PM.  Shift changes, meal preparation, donations being dropped off, equipment breaking down, constant cleanup and anything else that happens are just a “few” of the events that happen during any day.  It’s amazing what can go on in the 5 hours that the kitchen is open.  We like to call it “controlled chaos”!

The kitchen staff takes pride in serving hot, nutritious meals.  While they prepare the meals, we are often blessed with donations that help us stretch our food budget.  Once a month, the women at Saint John Newman make delicious sandwiches of egg salad, ham, PBJ, and a variety of other sandwich fillings.  They bring 500 sandwiches at one time!  There’s another group of ladies from several local churches that come in to help with the dinner meal one time a week.  Churches, clubs like Rotary, organizations, and others drop off leftovers from potlucks and events that they have held or come as a group to volunteer.  Local school clubs and other youth organizations or church youth groups will bring in 10 to 60 volunteers at a time.  The 4-H groups, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts can often be seen serving, prepping food, or cleaning in the kitchen. Sometimes former clients just drop by to “touch base” with where the change in their life started and help in the kitchen.  Volunteers from States across the United States drop in; volunteers from other countries like Canada and Mexico often come to help us.  Many of the people we serve volunteer to help in the dining room because they are so grateful.  We appreciate everyone who helps us in any capacity.

Last Friday, I was walking through the kitchen and seeing all the action.  Earlier that day, I recalled hearing Leticia, the kitchen coordinator, encouraging someone who didn’t know what to do in their program.  Shortly after that, she was firmly saying, “no one works without a hairnet or gloves”.  She watches over that kitchen like she watches over her 5 children—firmly but lovingly.

Now there were 4 volunteers working quickly, shredding meat that would be delivered to a local club for their food booth at the fair. The meat was delivered late and we were behind.  Dinner was prepared and was staying warm in the oven.  Someone was cleaning counter tops.  Another person was sweeping.  A volunteer was washing pots and pans.  Another was putting dishes in the dishwasher.  Volunteers were in the pantry sorting out food and putting it on shelves or getting it packed to go to the warehouse.  The doorbell was ringing letting us know that someone was there with a food donation.  Men were standing at the serving line ready for the words “let’s do this!”  Someone was in the walk-in refrigerators cleaning and putting the dates on the food.  I smiled to myself because in all the chaos, clatter, chatter, and hard work going on, we were getting ready to do what we do best; start at the very heart of a person who is down and out by serving them dinner.  We were being of service to the community.

We believe that we serve Yuma County by helping those “at the Crossroads of their life” and we take that very serious.  It’s the work that God has given us to do.  It’s our ministry!  We believe that we cannot lead people to know Jesus Christ as their Savior when they’re hungry, tired or discouraged.  The kitchen is the hub for all the services at Crossroad.

As I was walking out of the kitchen, I heard Randy, the chef, in a soft, genuine tone, telling everyone what a great job they were doing and how much he appreciated their help.  Yes, it was a typical day at the hub of the mission!

Saving Lives From the Heat!

Yikes! I’ve been negligent in getting blogs on the Crossroads Mission’s web page. The sad thing is that I love sharing my thoughts and experiences at Crossroads. We are a busy agency to say the least! Many things in Yuma slow down because of the summer heat but I think in many ways it makes us busier.

We have many goals during these extreme weather conditions with the first being that no one dies in this heat! We don’t have control over some of the choices the homeless make but we can educate them. Crossroads works with the Arizona Department of Health Services, Cenpatico of Arizona, and the Yuma Heat Relief Project to provide heat-related services to not only the homeless but the poor of this community. We are equipped to be “cooling off” stations for those who are without electricity or water. A “cooling off” station means that people in the heat can stop by the shelters to get a drink and to cool off.  (Visit our Heat Safety web page for more information: http://crossroadsmission.org/heat-safety.html)

Recently, local businesses held a bottled water drive for Crossroads. They posted their efforts on Facebook and asked for readers to donate. Some people responded in a very negative way about giving the homeless bottled water. One lady remarked that she drank out of the faucet and that should be good enough for the homeless. Another person wrote that they couldn’t afford bottled water so why should they buy it to donate it to the homeless. Some of the remarks were cutting but most were because the people did not take time to find out what we do with the bottled water. We give bottled water to the homeless who are still out in the elements. Many live in “shelters” that do not have accessible water. Some have “homes” that do not have access to water because of not being able to pay the water bill.

There are many situations that make the use of bottled water appropriate. We do use faucet water in all of the shelters by filling up containers with ice and water and keeping them accessible to everyone who comes into any building on our property locations.

We try to emphasize and educate the homeless that they must be hydrated in this heat. Many use drugs or alcohol which intensifies dehydration in the body. We want to get them into a program to help them live a sober life but some just aren’t ready. We want them to live long enough to be ready to make changes. We want to be there with programs and services to help them to become engaged, productive citizens. Water? It is a life or death situation. We do not want anyone to die in the elements when it’s such an easy solution of drinking water.

Most importantly, I must always look to the scripture for direction. In Mark 9:21 (KJV) Jesus was teaching the disciples about sharing the Word with others and it gives us great insight to how we should present ourselves as Christians. We can take it literally as well.   “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.”

Let’s not forgive our service to the children either. In Matthew 10:42 (KJV) we read, “Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”

Giving water is an important ministry tool at Crossroads Mission. We minister to the homeless, the addicted, the poor, the needy, families, men, women, and children by being the hands and feet of Jesus. God bless you for supporting Crossroads Mission and for being part of the our ministries to this community!

Serving Even in Through The Dry Heat

It’s a dry heat!  I’ve heard that a time or two!  We’re in the midst of that “dry” heat right now!  Really?  Those of us living in Yuma know that July starts the monsoon season. The humidity seems unbearable at times and that only increases the effects of the heat.  No matter what the season or what the weather brings us, at Crossroads Mission, we continue to try to meet the needs of the folks who seek help at the mission.  

 Crossroads Mission is a faith-based organization dedicated to helping individuals who find themselves at a “crossroads” in their lives. Our goal is to help them take that direction that will bring them to a personal encounter with God, and to help them make changes that will result in a better quality of life.

 We’re in the business of compassion, change, and giving a hand up instead of a handout. We begin with the very basics of need:  food, clothing, and shelter.   It is our mission to help the poor, the needy, and those who are hurting,   Our donors are part of that mission.  Our volunteers are part of that mission.  The Board of Directors and the staff at the mission work towards that common goal of helping people change and to alleviate suffering.  I thank you for helping us accomplish our mission statement.  If you would like to volunteer or donate, please contact us on the web at http://www.crossroadsmission.org/ or call (928) 783-9362.  f you need services, please call.  God bless you!

A Season Of Emotions

One would think that after all the years that I’ve worked at the mission, that I  might have become calloused or hard-hearted from working here so long.  After all, I’ve seen lots of things, heard lots of stories, and have been a witness to the harshness of life.  This past holiday season, I don’t know what was wrong with me but many things were causing tears to well up in my eyes and even at times full-blown tears running down my checks.

I was getting tears over things that might seem odd to some.  I could chalk some of it up to it’s been a tough year at the mission.  Donations are down, the need has increased, and still we continue to serve the homeless, the addicted, and the poor of this community.  Yet, God’s mercy is seen in everything that we do at Crossroads.

Here’s the short list of things that touched me to the point of tears this year:

When I learned that 20 Veterans, some who have been coming to the mission for years, were granted housing.

When I saw the honor that was paid to our vets at the December 7th Remembrance Day by staff, volunteers, guests, homeless, and the folks in the program;

At the homeless memorial, the reality of so many being on the memorial list.  Realizing how much I miss John C. and Ronnie A. We have had a lot of friends who have passed on over the past 15 years;

The feral cat that curled up around the lighted baby Jesus in the Nativity scene to stay warm at night; I’m not an animal person but I cried;

Santa coming to see the kids on Christmas day.  He arrived in a huge fire truck provided by the city.  Old and young alike, were thrilled; tears were flowing.

A mentally-ill man about 30 who received a “new” pair of dress shoes thanks to a donor.  The next day he wore a suit that he had gotten from our thrift store.  He literally ran to staff members in his excitement, hugging each of us, squealing with glee, he felt so special.  I cried at his innocence and excitement.

The number of volunteers who show up to help serve.  Hundreds of people were sacrificing their holiday to be of service.   As I looked at the crowd each day, my heart was touched.

People who gave so generously during this Christmas season made a sacrifice to share what they had.  Some had very little but shared what they had.  God doesn’t look at the amount.  He looks at the heart of the giver.

As I watched the homeless children and staff member’s children in the Christmas play.  They had just spent a week in vacation Bible school and learned the true meaning of Christmas.  Dressed in their costumes, they were “precious in His sight”!  The tears flowed as they sang “Away in a Manger”.

Seeing five big, tough guys singing with those children.  They were dressed in costumes too.  They had no shame at participating.  Every one of them was in one of our programs of change here a

The children of the Family Shelter, and some brave men, during the Christmas play at Crossroads Mission.

The children of the Family Shelter, and some brave men, during the Christmas play at Crossroads Mission.

t the mission.  I was so touched at their role modeling to many of the children who don’t have male role models.  Thanks for the tears men!

I don’t remember all the things that brought tears to my eyes.  I only remember what a season of emotions this has been for me.  I’ve seen God’s mercies first-hand at Crossroads.  His mercy is passed through the staff, our donors, our volunteers, the churches, and the organizations that support Crossroads.  I’ve got tears in my eyes right now!  Thank you!

I HATE ALCOHOL

I hate alcohol.  I hate how it is an enticement for all races, genders, and ages of people.  Many start quite innocently thinking that “everyone does it”, “it can’t be that bad”, and “it’s only alcohol”.  I hate how it breaks up families, takes people to places they would never go without its influence, and takes them to lows of evilness and degradation that no human being should know.

I hate the very deceptive nature of alcohol.  I hate how it knows no boundaries nor does it honor any status.  I hate how young people think that it’s a “safe” play thing that is fun and certainly offers no harm.  They play with it like their toys of yesterday.  I hate that binge drinking is now the “in” thing that is popular among high school and college students.  I hate how alcohol takes lives quickly with alcohol poisoning, accidents, and especially how it kills the very soul of the people who are held in its vice of control.

I hate that we are a nation who can’t have sports events without alcohol.  Youth events must offer alcohol or parents and spectators won’t attend.  Heaven forbid if alcohol isn’t allowed!  People will sneak it into events because it is accepted and we can’t live two hours without it.  Cities offer block parties and other events that are only centered on alcohol as an enticement for good family fun. I hate how we dress it up at events and parties by dispensing it from fountains, kegs, and so innocently in gelatin shots.   I hate that we measure how much fun an event was by the amount of alcohol that was served.  I hate alcohol.

I hate how alcohol destroys families.  I hate how fathers don’t take care of their children. They don’t pay the bills and selfishly put alcohol before everything that is important. I hate how mothers must hide their alcohol use and neglect becomes evident before the root cause.  I hate how it replaces love with hate. Parents are at the end of their rope because one or both have let alcohol enter the sacred bounds of marriage.  Then they have no hope in salvaging a marriage that would remain perfectly intact unless alcohol entered the holy bounds of marriage like the adulterous mistress.  I hate how alcohol descends on a marriage like the deceitful mistress who slipped in silently, flirtatiously, and subtly.  Alcohol steals time away from the family, robs the relationship of intimacy, and leads to divorce court or funeral homes all in the name of “good times,” “I deserved this,” or “I’ve had a hard day.”  Alcohol becomes a god, a god of control, and a god of self-destruction.  I hate alcohol.

I hate that people can’t see alcohol for what it is.  I hate that even when children see their parents being destroyed by alcohol they still justify their future of drinking by saying “It wouldn’t hurt to have one or two drinks.”  I hate that even though they see what alcohol has done to their parents, they remain at risk to repeat those behaviors just because of the environment they were raised in.  I hate that it can be generational and gives no hint when it might show up generations later after laying dormant for years.  I hate how boys are raised without father figures and have no role model for their future. Little girls grow up with a hole in their heart for a daddy that was missing emotionally and physically.  I hate alcohol.

I hate how people who have made a magnificent recovery from drugs turn to alcohol because “it’s not a drug.”  They think they can drink it because it won’t affect them like their drug of choice did in the past.    They justify going to bars because they “don’t have to drink” and they need to “unwind” or that they have” no place to have fun” or perhaps the biggest lie of all, “I can have just one.”  They dabble with a drink here and there.  Then when they least expect it, they are under the influence of alcohol and their drug of choice shows up maybe by coincidence or maybe by an evil plan.  There it is.  Their addiction staring them in their face just when their guard is down; just when they thought they had it licked; just when they were sure they were having fun and things were good.  Some may be strong enough to pass up their drug of choice but alcohol takes the place of the old drug.  Either way, they are on the path of destruction and  history begins to repeat itself.  The alcohol and drug takes on personality of its own.  It has gained victory in a life that was changed but now has slipped back to the abyss of darkness, destruction, and death.  I hate alcohol.

I hate how alcohol births denial and justification.  Alcohol produces denial which out-shadows reality and honesty.  Denial left to its own devices thickens, toughens, and grows in such strength that even the strongest of the strong are no match for its power.  I hate how denial wickedly deceives people in believing that they haven’t had that much to drink and driving won’t be a problem.  It’s sad that alcohol and denial work hand-in-hand to make widows, widowers and parents  with dead children.  Even now, denial will be telling many of the readers of this essay that these words certainly don’t pertain to them.  It is written for the weak and the unsuspecting but not for them.  I hate alcohol.

Update on Family Shelter

If you haven’t driven by our main campus lately, I encourage you to come on by.  You don’t even have to get out of the car to see what I’m talking about.  We have a building going up and going up quickly.  The Family Shelter is becoming a reality and all praises go to God!

The actual construction project started on January 3, 2011 with a projected

Construction is well underway!

completion date of mid-to- late fall.  The architect company, Venture Architects, and the construction company, Lococo-Pilkington Construction (LPC)  are an effective team in taking this project through to completion.  This has been one of the most exciting times in Crossroads most recent history.

The new facility will sleep 100.   There are 50 beds designated for the homeless emergency shelter and New Way Program side and fifty beds for the New Life Recovery on the other side of the building.  We are planning on allowing parents to keep their children with them during their participation in the recovery program.  We know of only one other program in the State of Arizona that has this benefit right now.  Crossroads is about family reunification and family preservation. 

The Career and Academic Center will be located in the new building too.  As always, we will be opened to the public.  Anyone who wants to earn a GED can come to the center and take the GED pre-test.  After working on increasing their skills in the 5 areas of testing, we will send them to the AWC testing site.  All of these services are free—even the GED test is free as it is funded by donors who support the education services at Crossroads.  (By the way, you don’t have to wait for the new building.  We do this right now on the main campus.  Don’t wait!)  Of course, we will continue to encourage Crossroads residents and clients to take full advantage of all adult education services offered at Crossroads.  Just this past year, the education staff reports over 11, 000 study hours by clients and folks from the community seeking to improve their education.

While many things will stay the same, when the new shelter opens, we already are anticipating many things that will change.  The Family Shelter staff members are developing plans to expand many services especially to the children.    We understand the needs of the families when they need services at Crossroads.  Many have never been in a homeless situation before and don’t really know what to expect at a shelter.  While the parents are trying to get a job, they often are depressed and have a hard time meeting the day-to-day requirements of just living and keeping their family intact.  We get them the services they need to help them return to a “normal” life as quickly as possible.  We recognize the needs of the children as well.  We don’t want them to be frightened at their new, temporary environment.  Their stay at Crossroads should be a memorable stay filled with loving and caring staff and volunteers. (Even today, many times, the children don’t want to leave when it’s time to move into their new homes.)

As you can imagine, there is excitement in the air at Crossroads!  We know that we have much work ahead of us.  Business continues as usual while the Family Shelter is built.  We are still short in the total dollars needed to complete the shelter project—about $250,000.  We are planning some fund raisers during the summer.  I’d like to remind the folks who made pledges for this project nearly 3 years ago to get those pledges in to help us get this project completed.  Best of all, we continue to operate in faith that God knows exactly what and how much we need.

If you can make a donation, no matter the size, please go to our web site for online giving or click on this link to go directly to DONATE ONLINE http://crossroadsmission.org/donate.htm.

Finally and most importantly, remember Crossroads Mission  when you pray.  We know that the “effectual, fervent pray of a righteous man (and woman) availeth much”!  James 5:16