Killing the Cold with Coats | The Center for Victims of Torture

Killing the Cold with Coats

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

CVT staff Casie and Emily with coats donated by Kroll OntrackCasie Iwata is a social worker and case manager at our St. Paul Healing Center.

At right, CVT employees Casie and Emily show off a few coats donated by staff from Kroll Ontrack.

It’s that time of year when our ears are filled with songs of family, fun and snow. But for many newcomers to Minnesota those songs don’t ring true. More than 80% of the survivors we care for in St. Paul come from Africa and Southeast Asia. And most of them are ill-prepared for our cold, snowy winters.

To help these men and women adapt to our weather and culture, we teach them about the necessary winter gear. Using handouts and demonstrations, we teach the newcomers about wearing multiple layers of clothing – including long underwear -- and bundling up. These small lessons make life more bearable for survivors.

Earlier this year, “George” began 30 minutes of a daily walking routine recommended by his therapist. This simple exercise can do wonders for managing depression.  George loved walking and it helped his healing. But when cold weather arrived, George’s walks ended and his depression became harder to manage. Thankfully, we learned George wasn’t getting out as needed for his recovery, so we suited him up with a warm winter coat and boots. He has now resumed his walks and is back on the path to healing.

Through generous donors, we usually have a supply of boots, coats, hats and gloves that we can give to survivors who need them. When our supply is gone, we connect survivors to clothing closets so they can get the gear they need. This cold-weather gear allows survivors to walk their children to the bus stop, take the bus to their appointments and continue with their schooling even when winter winds blow.

A few months ago, another client, “Julia,” mentioned that she was preparing for her winter hibernation. Curious, the social worker asked about the hibernation. Because Julia didn’t have a warm coat last winter, she was homebound for more than four months.  Julia now has a winter coat, scarf and hat so she can continue taking the bus for shopping and English classes. “The coat killed the cold!” she declared.

We’ve received several generous donations of coats, hats and gloves recently. And we are so grateful for them. These items will all go to needy survivors, allowing them to continue with their daily lives and healing. These donations don’t just warm the bodies. They warm the hearts of survivors and give them the hope to continue rebuilding their lives.

Survivors names have been changed to protect their identity.

If you’d like to donate coats, boots, hats or gloves, please contact Steven at shall [at]



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