BY BOBBI ALMEIDA
As any resident of Colorado will tell you, if you don’t like the weather wait an hour; it will change. Or how about the one about having all four seasons in one day? The topic of weather here can generate any number of jokes. However, the storm that recently passed through was no laughing matter.
For most, the bitter cold and high snow accumulation likely kept you indoors. Perhaps you were relieved to have an extra day off work. Or maybe you just worked from home. Regardless, the warning came from the city: if you don’t have to be out, please stay inside. For me, it was my day off, so I was just lying around, not really planning on doing anything. I am not a fan of cold and snow, so it wasn’t hard to convince myself to lounge around all day.
I then received a video from my boss. It was of the security team putting together pastry trays for the day. I laughed at them, hard at work, doing the very job I loved as a volunteer. Then I received a call from my boss. Seems the weather had kept most of the volunteers away that day, and he was asking if I wanted to come in. Without hesitation, I agreed. The roads were a mess. The high temperature that day was 19. Not even sure what the wind chill was, but it was cold. A bitter cold with high winds and blowing snow. I describe this not for you to take pity on me but rather to try and put this into perspective. While I crawled out of bed in my warm house, I was coming to a place to help people who do not have that luxury.
I arrived at work to find the meal being prepared by about seven volunteers. On a typical day, this is a job for about 25 people. When they say it takes a village, this is the truth. Although client services was closed, two directors came to ensure that the warming shelter was in place (Marian House opens the doors of the client service anytime the temperature falls below 32 degrees). On the soup kitchen side, there were directors helping to prepare the meal. Other directors and managers were doing dishes, and our CEO was busing tables. By the end of the day, the Marian House served 572 meals.
Mother Nature may have shut the city down, but that does not stop the Marian House from serving the daily meal. I asked some of the longer-tenured employees and discovered that the Marian House had never missed serving a meal: not during the move into the new facility, not when there was a basement fire. I was reminded of a situation a couple of years ago where the wind had caused a major power outage in the downtown area, and the Marian House still opened. Sack lunches were served, and the hungry still ate.
If the past couple of storms are any indication, we are in for a long, cold winter. For most of us, the snow accumulation may impact our commute and our schedule. It may be an inconvenience to our day or an unplanned trip to the store to stock up on groceries in case we are snowed in. But what about those who are out in the elements, where the weather plays a primary factor in their way of life? This likely isn’t something that crosses our minds. To be honest, until I became a part of the Marian House family, I never even gave it any thought. The reality is that people who are homeless are still hungry, and the Marian House will still offer a hot, nutritious meal. We are a 365–day operation. Even if the volunteers can’t make it, the staff will make it happen. Because in this line of work, there is no such thing as a snow day.
Bobbie Almeida is a former security guard with Catholic Charities Marian House.