Katie Sleigh, Chair of HPC’s Outreach Committee, shares about a new ministry HPC has felt called to support – Care Beyond the Boulevard.
The moving van showed up one day in the late 90’s. My two young boys, Andrew and Patrick, were so excited when they discovered that the new family had kids their age. Kerrick was going to start kindergarten with Andrew and would become his best friend. Kenlee was a cute little girl Patrick’s age, who had no problem keeping up with the boys. Their mom, Jaynell, who goes by KK, was a fun and feisty young divorcee, who kept crazy hours in her nursing job. Our families immediately became friends. KK was always quick to help out with child care or a medical answer. She adored children and babies, and was right there when baby Danielle was born.
They eventually moved away, but we kept in touch via facebook. Kerrick joined the Navy, and Kenlee went to college. KK added more kids by becoming a foster mom to some adorable boys. These little boys were soon included in her Facebook posts along with Kerrick and Kenlee. However, before long, a new type of post was popping up on KK’s facebook feed.
She had expanded her nursing beyond her day job, to include the homeless people who were showing up when she volunteered downtown at a soup kitchen. She realized that many of the homeless people she served had untreated medical issues and would ask her for help when they came to get their meals. This is how Care Beyond the Boulevard was conceived. KK, always passionate about helping others, had found her calling.
A quick visit to the Care Beyond the Boulevard website reveals most of what this amazing service provides. KK, her husband, and a team of doctors and volunteers head out to the streets several times a week with a truck loaded with medicine, supplies and hospitality bags. The medical staff treats many conditions, from foot problems (the homeless walk a lot) to mental illness (the majority have mental illness, including addiction). Volunteers, including Kerrick and Kenlee, hand out bags of hygiene items (shampoo, feminine hygiene products, socks, etc.) In the winter months, they hand out blankets, hats, and gloves.
KK is quick to explain that their patients did not “choose” to be homeless. Most, maybe all, have a condition that made it impossible for them to keep housing or a job. They are unable to be insured. She feels that everyone deserves the same quality of health care regardless of their ability to pay. She feels this care should be delivered with care, love and compassion without judgment or questions regarding what leads a person to their current situation. So many are a paycheck away from the streets, “ours is not to judge.” These are words she frequently says. (from the Care Beyond the Boulevard Website).
She has so many stories of people she’s met and helped, from the young girl Kerrick’s age to the man who lay dying in his tent. It took a few weeks to convince the man to go to the hospital. He had been to the ER and been told he was “fine”. One of the doctors on her team finally brought the man to the hospital and insisted on a CAT scan. The man had osteomyelitis, which was then treated, saving his life.
HPC’s Outreach committee has felt called to help KK with her medical ministry. I told KK that HPC is small in numbers, but big in compassion. She shared numerous ways that we can contribute to Care Beyond the Boulevard. These include everything from volunteering to hand out care bags on the streets to donating items, assembling care bags with donated items, and financial support. They are currently using KK’s husband’s truck for street nights, and have to unload it late at night so he can use it to get to work in the morning. They are looking for a bus which could be stocked with all of the supplies and stored in a donated cave downtown.
I am so excited about our participation in the ministry of Care Beyond the Boulevard. Watch for future information about how we plan to help.