United Caring Services Flies Lifesaving Flag of Dignity for People Who are Homeless
January 10, 2019
By Barb Powell
The white flag was out again last night (Jan. 9). In Evansville, Ind., the white flag flying outside the day shelter at United Caring Services indicates that the shelter will provide respite from the winter weather for the night.
Begun in 2010, United Caring Services’ White Flag program fills a much-needed gap in caring for and providing dignity and respect for the city’s “street homeless.” When the temperatures are going to be below freezing for more than three hours overnight, the CHHSM-member ministry raises the white flag, allowing people to see that they will have a warm place to sleep that night.
A similar Red Flag program exists in the summer. The red flag is hoisted whenever the National Weather Service issues a Heat Advisory or Excessive Heat Warning for Indiana’s Vanderburgh County, and temperatures are going to stay above 80 degrees F for more than three hours overnight. White/Red flag nights are normally announced by 10 a.m. on applicable days.
“The program started because around 80 to 100 people were street homeless in the community at the time, and when temperatures got too cold or too hot, they had no place to go,” says Jason Emmerson, executive director. “It was a major health and dignity concern.”
The issue was not a matter of too few shelter beds, says Emmerson. Rather, many people on the street have underlying behavior-related issues that deny them regular shelter services. Additionally, people whose utilities have been shut off, while not technically homeless, also need a place to escape the weather. After researching and discussing the need, United Caring Services formed a partnership with the local Pigeon Township Trustees Office to run the White/Red Flag program. (Continued …)
Read the full story HERE on the Council for Health and Human Services Ministries (CHHSM) of the United Church of Christ site.