As temperatures across the Midwest and Northeast hit record lows this week, vulnerable populations—the homeless, elderly and working poor—are at particular risk of the dangers posed by the winter storm. Inadequate shelter or a broken furnace can quickly turn into a life-threatening situation. The arctic weather is being blamed for 20 deaths thus far, and emergency rooms have been flooded with cases of hypothermia and frostbite.
In response to the severe weather, Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS)  Centers in St. Louis, Cleveland and Pittsburgh are on high alert, ramping up services and assistance. FOCUS Centers have had their doors open to help those in need with hot meals, coats and blankets.
In Pittsburgh, FOCUS is assisting families with utility payments to ensure that their heat remains on, and working with utility companies to make certain that elderly shut-ins are safe and warm.
"The people we serve need us now more than ever," said Nicholas Chakos, FOCUS Executive Director. "Anyone who has been outside in the past few days knows how bitterly cold it's been. For those without proper clothing, or in an unheated house, it's positively dangerous. We want to make sure FOCUS is doing everything it can to help people get through this storm."