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Tell It Like It Is

Even Today There Is No Room In the Inn

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Thomas Segel is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or
October 21, 2011 | 1,319 views | 2 comments

All we have to understand that night so many years ago are the biblical renditions of our Christian story. When they arrived in Bethlehem, there was no room at the inn. That tale of being filled to capacity is replayed time and time again as the helpless, homeless and hungry of America seek any relief they can find.

“That is impossible”, people retort. We have government programs, food stamps, housing projects, bailouts and stimulus legislation. We have given the poor more than two years worth of unemployment checks. Everyone has been taken care of by the government. That such benefits have been provided is true. That people are not hurting is false...and wrong.

From this vantage point we can only provide an antidotal view on how our national debt and devastated economy are impacting the least fortunate of our bothers and sisters. Even though Harlingen, Texas may have the most modern and expansive facility in the nation to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless, Loaves and Fishes of the Rio Grande Valley is still negatively impacted by an ever increasing demand for services, diminishing dollars and its space filling to capacity. In some cases, even this shelter has been forced to say...”there is no room at the inn.”

At Loaves and Fishes the increased needs of both the hungry and the homeless started to markedly increase in May 2010. At that time the feeding program was serving just over 9,000 hot meals a month. By July that number had increased to more than 10,300 meals served. One year later the average had grown to more than 11,500 hot meals a month. When the total meals served from January through September of 2010 are tabulated the number is 95,154 plates of food provided for the hungry. Using the same monthly figures for 2011, Loaves and Fishes has served 102,371 hot meals to the poor.

If we look back at the holiday season of 2010, it can be seen that for the homeless of America the past, present and future remain bleak. By December 2010 Loaves and Fishes had given warm beds to those without homes on 6894 bed nights. In tabulating the use of a shelter, a bed night is one person sleeping in one shelter bed for a single night.

Has the homeless situation improved in South Texas? No, it remains a concern here, as it is across the country. Though the bed night total for 2010 had not been reached by September 2011, even with the hot Texas summer and very little rain, the number of people requiring shelter had reached 6248 bed nights, only 400 shy of the 2010 total usage. With October still upon us, Loaves and Fishes have already reached the total bed nights of one year ago. As the weather turns colder and winter nears it is frightening to contemplate what bed night total will be reported by year’s end.

Though the actual percentage of increased shelter use seems slight at this time, it does not tell the complete story. By October of this year there were already more women and children seeking shelter than for the entire year of 2010. By September there had been a 130% increase in the number of women and children seeking a place to lay down their heads at night. There were so many, that Executive Director Pastor Bill Reagan was forced to tell them no room remained for them in the facility, while at the same time he searched for other beds they could sleep in at neighboring locales.

Soon winter will knock on the door of Loaves and Fishes. Its Board of Directors understand this and are already making plans for increased shelter needs during those cold nights of late November through February. They have assured there is a supply of cots that can be put in place in the halls and dining room to accommodate any overflow. At Loaves and Fishes of the Rio Grande Valley it is difficult for anyone to ever say “there is no room at the inn.”

Semper Fidelis
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Your Opinions and Comments

Rock'n chair Rambler  
Over Taxed, TX  
October 22, 2011 7:49am
Meanwhile, our fearless leader spends millions of tax payer dollars traveling around the country in Airforce 1 making political campaign speeches to dwindling crowds of well-paid union members. How many bed/nights could ... More ›

Elaine K.  
October 21, 2011 3:30pm
New Post.

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