Friday, November 14, 2014

Snowmageddon in Painesville and Mentor. Impact on the Homeless

Yesterday parts of Mentor and Painesville, Ohio had a tremendous lake-effect snowfall. About 14 inches fell in Northeast Mentor, Painesville, and surrounding areas within a few hours. The result was absolute paralysis in these snowbelt communities that normally shrug off the snow. Painesville was in total gridlock. I know this firsthand because I, and many of my friends, were trying to get to St. Mary's Church in Painesville, where we feed the homeless and hungry every Wednesday and Thursday. We typically serve about 150 meals (and the range can be 100 to 200) each day. There are lots of homeless and hungry people in Painesville, the county seat of prosperous Lake County, Ohio.

I left Lakeland College, on the Kirtland-Mentor border, around 2:30 PM for the 12 mile trip to Painesville. I arrived there at 5:20--almost three hours later. I was almost crazy at that point. My car was running out of gas; my phone battery was drained; and I had to go the bathroom very very bad. All my companions in the Karpos Ministry to the Homeless were in the same situation. Kathy Flora was driving in from Geauga County, and was stopped by a stalled train. Kathy Philipps was stuck in her commute from John Carroll University, where she teaches theology (and this was important, because Kathy is the program director, and has the keys to the pantry). Ken Fitzsimmons and Krista Zivkovich had shorter commutes, but even a short commute took forever. Pam, Cheryl Rice, and Brian Rice made it in from Painesville Township--not many miles away, but a very difficult drive yesterday.

Somehow the crew cobbled together the meal without access to the food pantry. About 50 of the homeless and hungry were able to get to the Fr. Hanzo Center for the meal. They were all very grateful, in good spirits despite the difficult day. The food preparers and servers, my beloved friends, were also in good spirits. Each had a hilarious story to tell about the trip to St. Mary's. There was a wonderful sense of community last evening--we all felt so blessed to be there.

Linda did not come to the Karpos meal last night--she was watching our grandchildren in Mentor. But she did go to the Project Hope shelter for the homeless in Painesville later that evening and worked until around 10:45 PM. Linda told me that many of these homeless were tired and discouraged. It was a very tough day to be homeless, to make your way through over a foot of snow. But thank God the shelter was there for them!

Below are some photos taken in Mentor, at my daughter's house, and in Chardon/Hambden. I tried to take a couple pics in Painesville--but my phone had run out of juice.

Colin, shoveling snow in Mentor

Hambden Township

Chardon, Ohio

Cleveland Pear trees outside our window in Hambden Township

Colin--Mentor, Ohio

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