San Jose pastor, volunteers help homeless stay hydrated during heat wave

Bay Area

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — The heat can be especially hard on the homeless.

They may need water, but if they have to walk a long way to get it, they risk heat stroke, or worse.

KRON4’s Rob Fladeboe went along with a team of homeless advocates as they made water deliveries to homeless camps in San Jose.

On any summer day, the sun can be brutal in the hot dusty homeless camps in San jose. But when the temperature hovers around 100, like it did Friday, you will find homeless advocate Pastor Scott Wagers and crew moving from one homeless camp to the next delivering cold water.

“Think about living out here, in this squalor in the middle of the summer with COVID-19, and being cut off from resources,” Pastor Wagers said. “So we’re willing to come out here and do what we can to save some lives.”

With libraries closed and limited capacity at a handful of cooling centers, homeless people tend to hunker down in their camps. Those venturing out in search of food and water risk heat stroke.  

“If dehydration kills, then so many people out here are susceptible,” Pastor Wagers said. “And with the preconditions and medications that people take, you can imagine how the combination, and with COVID-19 also, people stacked in these tents, in the heat, two or three together, not practicing social distancing, not having masks.”

Delivering water to camps surrounded by poison oak and other hazards along Coyote Creek is hot, thirsty work. The Good Samaritans too must stay hydrated. 

But it’s also rewarding say the volunteers who make up wagers cham ministries

“I try to make a difference,” volunteer Mohamed Elassal said. “We all have the luxury and we’re lucky enough to have homes and have better conditions. We have to try and make a difference and provide whatever we can to people who don’t have the opportunity.”

“Just trying to help out where it’s needed, nobody’s out here doing this,” volunteer Vanessa Villarreal said. “We try to give water, anything, take donations, food, clothing, anything just to help them get out of this situation hopefully one day.”

As if the pandemic weren’t bad enough, the heat can be deadly, says Wagers. He has seen it happen. 

But not today, not here. 

And when it cools off later, Wagers says he’ll be back with some food.

“It’s probably 101 degrees today, it’s a formula to take lives,” Pastor Wagers said. “And so our formula is to save lives by getting them the resources they need.”

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