EL PASO COUNTY — A Colorado Springs woman went undercover as a homeless person on Monday, which was the coldest day in January this year.
Connie Whisenhunt is passionate about helping the homeless community. She also owns Connie’s Cupboard, which is a thrift store on the south side of Fountain.
At her business, she welcomes the homeless community every day, by giving them clothes, food, and toiletries.
“Homeless people are not invisible,” said Whisenhunt. “I care, and I help, and I want to be there for them, and so that's what I do,” said Whisenhunt.
But on Monday, when high temperatures were in the single digits, Whisenhunt panhandled on I-25 and Tejon Street in Colorado Springs. She said she was there for over an hour and a half and counted 180 cars go by.
“I received a six-pack of cupcakes and one package of hand warmers. There was no money given, people barely looked at me,” said Wisenhunt. “The people who did look at me were very judgmental or making comments to themselves.”
After panhandling, she checked herself into a homeless shelter. She said she met many other people in the homeless community and heard their stories. She said she was overwhelmed by the number of people who were simply down on their luck.
“At 8 o’clock, I was overwhelmed, I was shaking from the cold, my chest hurt, my stomach hurt, I was crying, and it’s sad,” said Wisenhunt.
Now, she says she wants to learn from her experience of going undercover as a homeless woman, and continue her work in helping the homeless community.
“I think that experiencing something like that, is definitely enlightening you, and gives you more knowledge on how to respond, how to help, and how to continue to care for people in this situation,” said Whisenhunt.
On Tuesday the following day, she also helped her friend Dave, who goes to her business regularly. She added that Dave doesn't have a home, but is well-known in the community. During the severely cold temperatures, she learned that Dave got frostbite on his feet. Dave was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Denver, and Whisenhunt said she'll pick him up after he receives treatment and is released.
“I love Dave, I love our community, and I love the homeless people. They’re not invisible,” said Whisenhunt.
For more information about Whisenhunt, and her business, Connie’s Cupboard, click here.
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