First Day of Winter 2020: Long, Dark Days of Winter, Nowhere to Call Home, and a Highly Infectious Virus

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The First Day of Winteror the winter solstice, is a national awareness day to remember and honor those who have died while experiencing homelessness and honor those who have lost their lives unnecessarily in the last year. AHCH builds our annual campaign around the First Day of Winter (FDW), Monday, December 21, to reinforce how important quality health care is to help overcome, exit, and avoid future homelessness. 

AHCH’s 2020 First Day of Winter year-end annual campaign recognizes our 35 years of working with you, our partners, our funders, our donors, our volunteers, our staff, and our community to end homelessness. Never did we imagine that this year, our 35th First Day of Winter, we would also be living through a pandemicWorking daily among the many uncertainties to ensure that the lives of people experiencing homelessness are included in the coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

COVID-19 Strategy Overview and Strategic Alliances  

Together we are working to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on people experiencing homelessness and ensure resources and systems are in place for people without homes who need to isolate, quarantine, and/or access medical respite, receive treatment and obtain other support. 

Below is a partial list of other responses from AHCH that we make possible together:  

Increased street medicine to people forced to sleep rough  

Referral, testing and treatment for people who are positive for COVID-19 or who have been exposed  

Motel vouchers and other respite options for recovery and or isolation for people placed at high risk for severe illness (elders, families, people with chronic conditions etc.) from COVID-19 

Delivering isolation backpacks  

Linkages to housing 

Research, policy, and advocacy for eviction prevention, housing, public health responses, and economic supports   


As we have moved through this year, through these challenging times, we came to see, repeatedly, that no matter what This is what were built for.” 


Image: An Airstream trailer (1985) served as a well-supplied mobile clinic that provided health care at various locations around Albuquerque where people experiencing homelessness were likely to congregate.   


From its beginnings as a foundation-funded, demonstration program, AHCH has been distinguished by its balanced commitments to direct service, policy and advocacy, and consumer involvement to #endinghomelessness.  While our primary focus is health care, our end goal is to work with you to help people experiencing homelessness exit homelessness. This year alone, we are called to help approximately 7,000 people, but we can’t do it without you. 

As the temperatures drop, the days get shorter and the nights longer, life becomes more challenging for those experiencing homelessness, especially during a public health crisisTheir health and safety are threatened daily because they are denied basic human rights and the rise in COVID-19 cases puts people experiencing homelessness at critical risk, especially those seeking respite in packed emergency housing sites with many that have not been tested for the virus. We need to ensure access to warmth, basic life-sustaining needs, and complex care for people who need it most. 

We must be ready for the many people with nowhere else to turn in the cold. 

Your Opportunity To End Homelessness 

Building on the generosity of loyal and giving donors, we developed a dynamic campaign to support us in reaching our 2020 FDW campaign goal of $250,000.  

Giving together creates collective impact and safeguards services necessary to #endhomelessness. Giving sustains the healthcare needs and to be available to address the many existing health needs that are going unaddressed during the pandemic. After 35 years of being the only healthcare organization in Central New Mexico dedicated to exclusively serving people who are experiencing homelessness, what we know is sleeping outdoors means greater risks for illness due to extreme weather and delays or lapses in medication adherence can make you sicker.  

#Endinghomelessness is about demanding basic human rights and guaranteeing social justice for all. 

More info at Contact us at 505 338 8038 

Prepared by the AHCH Fund Development Committee  


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