Letter (Bruce Cox): Warm Room helps human beings downtrodden in community
I am writing this letter as a volunteer at the Warm Room. I am a longtime resident of South Lake Tahoe (1976 STHS graduate) and longtime community volunteer. I am a very private person who does not take a stand on frivolous things. Who I volunteer for and how much time I spend volunteering is between me and God. But I feel very strongly about the Warm Room and the people that are served there, so I am compelled to write this letter.
I spent 35 years in the grocery business, the last 32 at Raley’s at the “Y.” After retiring in 2010, I went on to work for the El Dorado County Probation Department. I served as fully sworn, deputy probation officer at the JTC (the juvenile hall in South Lake Tahoe). I worked with many caring professionals and am proud of the work that is done there. I have also been so very proud of the community that we live in, the way we come together to help anyone in a time of need, be it a serious illness, a death, an accident, or the Angora fire, we all come together to help. That’s just what we do.
The guests that are served at the Warm Room are also people in our community. (They could be Walkin’ Jack, for those that remember him.) They need our help. Most of the people that stayed in the Warm Room were people from right here in our town, people whose last names might be recognized by many as longtime Lake Tahoe people, some from prominent families in our community. I was given the opportunity to see people that I graduated from high school with. People that I worked with in the past, and people that I served as their case worker at the JTC. People that work at area ski resorts that don’t have first and last months’ rent up front. I saw many faces from the South Shore showing the stress of years of being homeless and/or underemployed. Human beings that would otherwise be in the cold, either in the meadow or under a bridge.
The Warm Room provides a warm place to sleep. In fact, the Warm Room had over 1,820 shelter-bed nights last winter; that’s more than 1,820 separate occasions that a person was able to be in a cot with a blanket and not out in the meadow in the cold. The Warm Room also provided the opportunity for guests to meet with social workers and other counselors of all kinds, including drug and alcohol counselors, and to gain access to many other resources. When we are operating, our guests wake at 6 a.m., have a hot drink, maybe some cereal or toast, and have to be on their way at 7 a.m. when we close in the morning. It’s no picnic, and no one feels good about sending them out in the cold at that early hour.
Please remember that these are human beings that for whatever reason are the downtrodden of our community. They need to be loved and touched just like you and me. These are human beings that need to know someone — anyone — cares. I am committed, as so many volunteers are at the Warm Room, to care for and to love the less fortunate until they can love themselves. I would personally invite anyone to come spend one morning with me and our guests, and then tell me if a life has or has not been changed for the better. I may not have changed the life of any of our guests, but be sure they have changed and enriched my life.
South Lake Tahoe, Calif.