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Ripped From the Headlines: Phoenix Man Dies From Heat Exhaustion

July 28, 2009

All summer we’ve been talking about heat relief and how important it is to get bottled water to people who live on the street. We’ve had water drives, I’ve been sharing stats about how many bottles of water we give out every week, we even have a video.

It’s one thing to talk about how dangerous heat exhaustion is and quite another to read an article on about a homeless man, named Howard, who died Saturday night, just a few blocks away from where I live.

The article describes the scene near Second and Monroe streets,

“He was very thin and wore soiled baggy clothes. His trousers rode up on his legs, revealing skinny white calves. He sat facing north on Second Street, toward the 10-story Arizona Republic building, the massive Sheraton Hotel and the fancy new twin dormitories of Arizona State University, which are largely used to house students for the journalism school and the nursing school.

That would have been the dead man’s last view.”

I know our Hope Coach goes out distributing water every single day, usually to areas of the city that nobody wants to go. But, it saddens me to learn that this man died on a bench in downtown Phoenix, next to the Herberger Theater Center, not some remote or scary area of the city. This means people would have walked right by him. It means on a different night, I might have walked right by him.

This is usually the point where I lead into something about how you can help by donating bottled water or by making a gift online. While those things are important and do help us provide for people like Howard, the only thing I ask now is that next time, you don’t just walk by.

  1. jackie rifkin permalink
    August 7, 2009 3:40 pm

    I would like to know what to do when we see people in this condition. I offer food and water when possible, but I don’t know who to call and usually they don’t want shelter. Does Rescue Mission pick people up? Thank you.

    • August 7, 2009 7:09 pm

      Offering food and water is a great start and it’s true that some don’t want to go to a shelter. The man in the article is a good example of this. Unfortunately, we don’t have the staff or resources to pick people up. For this situation, I keep bus passes with me to give out along with referral slips (available to anyone requesting them) to Phoenix Rescue Mission. A bus stop is located right next to the Mission on 35th Avenue. Hopefully, they’ll use the pass to come to us for a meal or showers, even if they don’t want to stay as overnight guests. I’ve never had anyone turn down the pass and figure at least it’s a ride to where ever they may decide to go.
      I’m doing some research for you to see if there are any services that will give people transportation. I’ll email you as soon as I find out.

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