People who never had a proper home growing up, never had family support, who were abused and neglected and have gone from shelter to shelter for years – these are some of the people who frequent the Caring Place.
Darrell Pilgrim, the director of the Salvation Army facility at Lougheed Highway and 222nd Street, pointed out that this group of people don’t necessarily have the skills to get their lives together – that is why the Caring Place exists, to help along this path.
Next week is Homelessness Action Week, and activities are planned from Tuesday to Friday by the Caring Place, Alouette Homestart Society, and other community agencies.
Many people often don’t realize that the majority of those who access services at the Caring Place and other social agencies in town are from “our community,” Pilgrim said.
“This is where they grew up and this is where they live,” he said.
The Caring Place offers free meals, shelter, and support services, but Pilgrim pointed out that “staying in a shelter is not a home.”
Homelessness doesn’t just include those sleeping on the street or outdoors, it includes people who are couch-surfing, sleeping in their cars, or living with 10 other people in a two-bedroom apartment.
“We believe it’s a right of all Canadians to have safe, adequate housing,” Pilgrim said.
In addition, many homeless people are working but still struggling to survive with their earnings.
The underlying theme is poverty, Pilgrim said. When someone who isn’t struggling with poverty has an addiction, they have more money and often family support to help them get through it.
Someone who has an addiction but has no money and no family around them will have a much harder time dealing with the addiction.
Being stressed about having too little money to survive – perhaps going from shelter to shelter – compounded with mental health and/or addiction issues leads people into crisis.
Most people whom the Caring Place serves have dealt with neglect and abuse, Pilgrim said. These people don’t know how to get out of their situation, he said, and need support and love getting their lives together.
Pilgrim believes society’s biggest mistake is not treating people how they want to be treated themselves.
The purpose of Homelessness Action Week is three-fold, Pilgrim said, first, to inform the public about homelessness in the community, secondly to advocate for change, and thirdly, to help the homeless population feel supported and that they are part of the community.
Today (Oct. 15) there will be a health and wellness clinic from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Caring Place.
On Wednesday evening from 7 to 9 p.m. the Caring Place hosts Maple Ridge Has Talent for the third year running.
As part of the education piece, a film will be shown Thursday evening that focuses on homelessnes in Metro Vancouver entitled Something to Eat, a Place to Sleep, and Someone Who Gives a Damn: A Film about Homelessness.
This is a joint presentation by the Caring Place, Cinema Politica, the District of Maple Ridge, and Alouette Homestart Society. Admission to the film, shown in municipal hall from 7 to 9 p.m., is free.
On Friday, Oct. 18, there will be a spa day for the clients of the Caring Place with haircuts, makeovers, hot showers, clean clothes, and toiletries.
At the same time, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., there will be food and conversation at The ACT with A Taste of the World. The community is invited to the meal which features cuisines from around the world. There is no cost for the meal, but any donations will go to the Friends In Need Food Bank.
@ Copyright 2013