It is hard to remember a month in which Howard County has suffered as much as it did this January. The tragic shooting at The Mall in Columbia and the loss of three young lives was heart breaking. All of us were affected by the freezing weather, but individuals and families without a home found themselves in desperate circumstances. Grassroots even lost heat in its offices for two days, and the pipes burst, closing the kitchen and dining room for eight days.
There aren’t many silver linings in such situations, but there was hope to be found in the response to the tragedies and the problems we faced. As a partner in the Mobile Crisis Team, Grassroots was called upon to provide crisis counseling to Mall shoppers, and later Grassroots crisis counselors talked with store employees who worked closest to the shooting. We are proud of our role in helping those most affected.
The Grassroots Cold Weather Shelter lived up to its name, taking in 16 new guests, including a family of five during January. A total of 59 people have received at least one night of shelter since opened Nov. 25, thanks to the generosity of our faith communities. Grassroots was also able to put people up in motel rooms during the freezing weather.
As for the problems at Grassroots offices, the lobby was turned into a serving area and community members helped out with meals for the residents. County government fixed the pipes, and everything eventually returned to normal.
January brought us fear, loss and sorrow, but it also reminded us how much we depend upon one another and how fortunate we are to live in a generous community.