Decreasing Temperatures, Increasing Risk

When the temperatures begin to drop, most people mindlessly make the change to the colder season. From warmer clothes, to warmer drinks, a majority make small switches in their daily routines. However, this change isn’t possible for everyone. During the colder times of the year, the homeless struggle to stay warm, and stay alive. In an interview by Ari Shapiro of the National Public Radio (NPR) team, she meets with a homeless man named David Pirtle to discuss the difficulties he encounters on the streets. At one point, Shapiro asks Pirtle what it is like on the worst nights for him (National Public Radio 2012). Pirtle responds, admitting thatduring the coldest nights is just, you know, fear of not waking up in the morning. It’s fear of freezing to death” (National Public Radio 2012). Although, he then adds that one learns how to stuff their clothes with newspaper and develop an awareness of resources, such as hypothermia vans that drive around Washington D.C (National Public Radio 2012).

Figure 1: In cities, homeless people tend to migrate to air vents on the street in order to stay warm.

Those living on the streets find ways to make the area they inhabit their home. This idea of home, although it can be difficult for outsiders to understand, is often the reason the homeless decline opportunities of residence in shelters. Due to this preference, though, the homeless are susceptible to cold related illnesses, such as hypothermia. And that’s why the hypothermia van system was created.

Using the Washington D.C. Shelter Crisis hotline, a van is deployed to offer transportation to shelter, blankets (if shelter is refused), or medical help (Georgetown Ministry Center 2019). Service organizations rely heavily on pedestrians to contact van systems when encountering a homeless person that is displaying signs of hypothermia (Tillett 2004). 

Steps have also been taken to prevent police intervention on the homeless when the homeless take shelter in off-limit areas. For example, Simmons of the “Cold Hits Homeless Hard” essay discusses his work as one of Washington D.C.’s van drivers (Tillett 2004). Simmons establishes relationships with parking garage attendees in hope that they will contact hypothermia vans when homeless people are found in garages instead of the police (Tillett 2004).

Figure 2: Simmons on hypothermia patrol in his van.

The service of hypothermia vans may be relatively new and unheard of to most, but hopefully the information is spreading to the right people. Potential sponsors, volunteers, and those in need should all be well aware of the on-call vans. With an estimated 700 homeless killed a year due to hypothermia, the issue is pressing (National Public Radio 2012). Death from hypothermia can be easily prevented with the right resources, and it’s important the need for these resources is widely advertised.


National Public Radio

   2012     “Why Some Homeless Choose Streets Over Shelters, National Public Radio.  Electronic document,, accessed November 8, 2019.


Tillett, Scott L.

   2004    Cold Hits Homeless Hard, Street Sense Media. Electronic document,, accessed November 8, 2019.


Georgetown Ministry Center

  2019    Emergency Info & Hotlines, Georgetown Ministry Center. Electronic          document,, accessed November 8, 2019.


Images Used:

Image #1:

Image #2:


Additional Readings:


Discoveries in Delaware

Archaeologic discoveries can instantly change the preconceived ideas of home. In Delaware, local historians were amazed by the product of their excavation at Avery’s Rest in the Rehoboth Bay area (Daley 2017). The team of archaeologists were concerned about Avery’s Rest, a historical landmark in Delaware, being destroyed by development (Peikes 2017). In an attempt to salvage remaining artifacts, the team stumbled upon 11 burial sites dating to the late 1600s (Denison 2017). Further adding to the information gained, three of the burials were identified as African descent by the Smithsonian Institution (Denison 2017). This discovery provides historians the earliest proof of slavery in Delaware (Denison 2017). As for the family as a whole, the family worked hard. The Smithsonian Institution conducted a series of DNA tests on the remains found to not only identify their descent, but the conditions their bodies faced (Peikes 2017). Especially in the southern Delaware region (where Rehoboth can be located), the absurd amount of corn grown in the area is commonly joked about. Interestingly enough, Peikes’ article explains that the those who resided on the Avery plantation had a poor diet that contributed to the rotting of their teeth (2017). The culprit? Corn.

Figure 1: A cellar exvacation at Avery’s Rest in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

Such a connection seems small on its own, but the implications are great. When paired with other discoveries throughout the site, it can be observed how Delaware has changed over time and how it has not. Examples like growing corn show a connection between our generation and the Avery’s, but things such as changes within human anatomy seen through today’s DNA testing illustrate some differences. The origin of those discovered at Avery’s Rest is also important because it can help give an idea of Delaware’s demographic in the 17th century. Surely there were many Europeans, but where exactly did they originate from? Questions like this help put Delaware’s current demographic in perspective and offer potential familial ties for natives to the area. Looking at the broader picture, other preconceived ideas or assumptions can be disproved. For example, the assumption of not having slavery in the north can be disproved by a discovery like this.

Figure 2: A map of Avery’s Rest that details the 11 burial sites.

It’s strange to picture Delaware as anything other than what it is today, however this discovery provides brand new insight on historical Delaware and what life was like in the 17th century. By filling in these gaps, Delawareans and historians alike can get a clearer picture of what the former refer to as home.


Daley, Jason. “Remains Tell Stories of Delaware’s Earliest Enslaved.”, Smithsonian Institution, 8 Dec. 2017,

Denison, Doug. “Archaeological Discovery Writes New Chapter in Delaware’s Early Colonial History.” Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs – State of Delaware, 13 Dec. 2017,

Peikes, Katie. “Rehoboth Archeological Discovery Holds Clues to Delaware’s Earliest Settlers, Slaves.” Delaware First Media, 6 Dec. 2017,



Figure #1 =

Firgue #2 =


Additional Reading: