Forgive them. They know not what they do. The District of Maple Ridge moved last week to shut down an illegal soup kitchen at one of the municipality-owned buildings – the CEED Centre.
As if the Anglican church didn’t have enough problems, some individuals under the guise of a street ministry in the name of St. George decided they were going to work outside the social agencies.
While I don’t doubt the sincerity of the individuals involved, they really have to become aware that their actions are not helping the people they claim to be ministering to.
It would be nice if we could transfer the energy they have from feeding these 50 or so lost souls once a week to getting them into a treatment facility and getting their lives back.
We have been through an evolutionary process in our community during the past 20 years – which taught us the good, the bad, and the ugly about soup kitchens.
A little more than a decade ago, the community had a number of soup kitchens or the equivalent.
A proposal was floated by [Salvation Army staffers] Barb and Kathy to move the soup kitchen from the Caring Place at Dewdney Trunk Road and 227th Street to the [then] new Salvation Army building at 222nd Street and Lougheed Highway.
The concept was that this facility would become the honey pot where all of the agencies involved – health, social services, addictions, etc. – could be assured that nobody was going without.
No one was going to starve and each contact would be viewed as an opportunity to help lost souls get their lives back.
Part of this social contract was the belief in every citizen’s mind there is no reason for anyone to be sleeping on our streets or to be hungry.
As regular readers will know, I am not a big fan of the current Salvation Army management team. But it is important that we all work together and create synergy with our efforts.
So when you meet someone panhandling or sleeping in the ATM room at your bank, don’t make the same mistake as the missionaries in the name of St. George have.
Direct them to the Caring Place.
I would also suggest these missionaries help out at the Caring Place and provide Saturday night dinners there. And maybe – as part of a bigger vision – they could go and help Vision Quest, which is one of the best, most recognized organizations running addiction treatment centres in the province. And, they need help.
Through the years, Vision Quest has been one of the organizations that has accepted many clients from Maple Ridge.
Last week I was approached by someone who had a family member in trouble. They had bounced off the current system for a month. Vision Quest stepped forward and found a bed.
During the discussion, I found out Vision Quest was under attack. They currently operate a number of 90-day, abstinence-based treatment facilities throughout the Lower Mainland.
They made an arrangement to take over the North Delta Inn, which ironically would make a great treatment centre.
When Delta found out Vision Quest’s intentions, they went ballistic.
So what has this got to do with Saturday night dinners at The CEED Centre in the name of St. George? Perhaps the CEED Centre’s and the missionaries’ time should be making sure beds are available for any of these 50 people when they are ready.
– Gordy Robson is a former Maple Ridge mayor and a local businessman raised in this community. His opinion column appears Tuesdays in the print and/or online versions of The TIMES. Questions and reactions can be emailed to Gordy c/o email@example.com.