As most of you know for various reasons I have not returned to my work in the shelter industry. I do still very much care about the issues around poverty and homelessness, so I continue to serve by volunteering. For several months I have been working at the Men’s Centre in Nanaimo BC… which provides counseling, referrals, and programs for men with various issues from family to self-awareness. Sometimes men are forced from their homes because of economic crisis, marriage breakdown or being the victims of domestic violence. When I was on the road I learned that there are many psycho-social issues involved in becoming homeless and also recovering from homelessness. Often men still cling to outdated images of machismo… and refuse to acknowledge the need for help. The multifaceted approach of the Men’s Centre allows a person to find the right fit for their needs (whether practical, psychological, emotional or peer support).
As an aside to the practical supports the Men’s Centre (Nanaimo) has a free clothing room and accepts donations of clean clothing. If you wish to donate clothing to us (or any other agency) please note these guys need casual clothing Jeans / Khakis and T-Shirts / Sweatshirts / Hoodies and Sport Socks and Runners and New Underwear. That is my wish list, Thank you so much for all that you do.
Most recently I have begun volunteering with the Victoria Human Exchange Society (Nanaimo branch). This is the most proactive community minded housing program I have come across; it is entirely volunteer run. Meaning that every dime which is donated goes to helping these men move forward with their lives.
Human Exchange is providing refuge / transitional housing and supports across Vancouver Island to recovering addicts re-entering society. The people coming to us are 90 days clean (and hoping to stay that way); usually they are just getting out of corrections or hospitals or treatment programs. If you read the Report of Findings from my research you will remember I discussed Refuge Shelters. These are highly controlled environments with zero tolerance for substance use on or off premises. Our guys are coming from places where almost every move is controlled into an environment where 50% of their movements are controlled. This is a step-up program leading away from an often lifelong cycle of recidivism. It is a chance to develop social skills, self awareness and life skills in a safe nonjudgmental space. I am very excited to start my service to these men and to VHES. So that is what I am doing these days.
Have a joyous month… winter will be over soon.