Summer just as harsh for High Desert's homeless

Bend shelters seek bottled water, sunscreen

Summer proves equally harsh for homeless

BEND, Ore. - Sunscreen, water, a baseball cap -- the essentials for any summer day at the beach or on a hike.

But for homeless Bend resident Julie Sage, her backpack of supplies is her life.

"It's a struggle," Sage said Tuesday of the heat.  "It's exhausting. It totally drains you."

Sage said she has lived outdoors for more than a decade. She's learned Central Oregon's spring and fall are nice in the great outdoors. But the High Desert's harsh seasons are just that.

"A lot of people have health problems because of it," Sage said. "They end up at the hospital."

Hot days in the upper 90s can be as bad as winter for those who spend most of their day outside.

"I definitely go to the river," Sage said. "I have to walk, and then stop and take a break, cool off again, pour water on myself and finish walking down there."

Local shelter officials said survival mode knows no seasons. Currently The Shepherd's House doesn't fill up at night, but more are coming in during the day. 

"We're definitely needed to get out of the heat," said spokesman Matt Searfus.  "To get the food, hydration, and if they don't sleep here, we're seeing them for showers and for meal  time."

The shelter is also struggling to meet demand.

"We don't have bottles of water to go, and that would be really nice," Searfus said.

And with no relief from the heat in sight, Sage will continue to make mother nature her air conditioning and  hope she and her friends can make it safely to cooler days.

The Shepherd's House and the Bethlehem Inn need bottled water and sunscreen.

Sage said she'd like to see more umbrella's donated to the shelters because she can't buy one with her food stamps.

The Shepherd's House could also use packaged foods like energy and granola bars and toiletry supplies like shampoo and soap.

Any donations can be dropped off right at the shelters.

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