July 15, 2007
When the heat rises, teams of volunteers from Norfolk's Human Services and Public Health departments hit the streets to hand out cold bottles of water to homeless people and others in need.
More than 200 bottles were distributed last week, said Craig Cairo, who works with special projects at the Department of Human Services. The program will continue throughout the summer on days when extreme heat is expected.
The volunteers can't get to all of the estimated 600 to 800 homeless people in the city, but handing out water is better than doing nothing, Cairo said. The lobbies of Norfolk's public buildings also are open to those living in the heat.
"It's not an exact science, that's for sure," Cairo said. "It's a judgment call. You try not to stereotype, but you can tell some are more in need than others."
Cairo encounters a mix of reactions on the street. Some people look puzzled and say, "I'm fine." Others ask a few questions, while some smile, take a bottle or two, and quickly walk away.