Monday, August 31, 2009

Home at Last / for now

August 30, 2009
Arrived home today, the first thing my daughter did was to take me to Phil's where I had eggs cooked over easy. At the shelters eggs are always cooked hard boiled. Also had 2 strips of bacon, 2 sausage, ham & 3 potatoe pancakes. Oh, there are some things I truly miss about civilian life. Really good food and 400 thread count sheets. Had a nice visit with my kids... went through some mail and will wrap up some of my business tomorrow morning. Then I will pop over to the D.I. and see if any of the boys are around I miss them all so much. It will give me a chance to see first hand what has changed since SunAlta shut down. Also I will be contacting the reporter I spoke of a couple of weeks ago. I'll keep you posted with the details. Blogs will probably be short while I'm on holidays. None the less it should be an interesting month... new baby coming, Ronnie's legal problems, Angels of the Road applying for charitable status... and just fun stuff in the real world. When your job is 24 hours a day 7 days a week, everything ordinary is a little exciting.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

look homeward angels

August 29,2009
It was my last day in this city. I spent it as I have so many others. Hanging out at the park down town. Today I brought my camera along and took a photo of each of the places I go in a day. I'll add some of them to the gallery tomorrow night. Said goodbye to many new friends, but I will have to get accustomed to such things. There are many more cities before this journey ends and I am bound to form attachments in each of them.
It was very hot here today, the Popsicle we had for snack has given me a canchar sore on my tongue. I continued to eat it anyway... I'm gonna regret that decision lol. But the heat did give me a chance to do something I have wanted to do all summer. I went wading in the city hall fountain. I have a photo of that, which I will also post.
Tomorrow morning I am on a Greyhound back to Calgary to visit my family for a month. And yes, homeless people do visit family. Whenever one of my boys left the Calgary D.I. to go home for a visit, I always secretly hoped they would stay there. Calgary may have been a boom town but the cost of living ate up any gains from the higher wages.
And while I am on the subject of things homeless people do, most have cellphones; usually pay-as-you go, it is hard to get a contract with no fixed address. A lot have laptops and just as many have dvd players. Now remember I differentiate between street people and homeless. Street people use what money they have to feed their addictions (druggies & drunks) and the drop-outs stopped caring about material shit long ago, which is why they dropped out. The Homeless may not have much money but they can afford a few of the niceties we all enjoy. In a way I guess it reminds them that they will have a home again and keeps them anchored in the concept of belonging to civilized society.
So yes, I will be home for a month... I will wrap up some business. Hangout with my kids and several friends. Welcome a new baby. Prepare for the next leg of my journey. Most importantly, see about registering Angels of the Road as a charity; for the benefit of those 950 people following my journey who don't actually know me. Those who do know me, do not need legal assurance that every penny donated would be used for the project and anything left will be passed on to an appropriate charity. That is just who I am. It's a Buddhist thing, karma and all that. LOL

Still learning

August28, 2009
This blog should have been entered last night. I haven't quite figured out all the new health dangers of living homeless. As you may remember I missed a blog before due to heat stoke, back in Regina. I knew that one was coming on because it starts, for me at least with a headache. But due to a series of event and the daytime lock-out where I was staying it was unavoidable. Yesterday however the was no warning headache. I had been taking extra strength Tylenol for my knees, which give me a lot of trouble (time to stop getting old LOL)... When I finally came back to the shelter at 8 p.m. I just laid down and was out like a light. So my apologies to all for missing our blog.
There are many health risk in shelter living I have been able to avoid but I am still learning. My skin is turning to crepe paper, some nice man told me he would not have thought I was a day over 50 awk before I left I was passing for mid to late 40s. That was only 3 months ago LOL. Also the high carb diet has me putting on weight so I am going to have to rethink some of the dietary stuff.
With the next leg of this journey taking me into the winter months I will need to be careful hypothermia, frostbite etc...Must watch closely to see how the street people (with all their appendages) handle the elements.
Anyway got to go find a glass of milk...then off to my last weekend brunch at the mission. I will blog tonight. ttyl

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lovely Day

August 27,2009
For a refreshing change I won't be veering off into a tangent, about matters, social, political or philosophical. Today was just a lovely day...I went to the drop-in this morning where I had a chance to run into the young man I spoke of in Warm Fuzzy Blog. This gave us a chance to say our goodbyes before I leave the city on Sunday. From there I went to the mission for lunch...not a bad lunch. The cream of potato soup had no potatoes but was chocked full of cauliflower... personally I would have called it cream of cauliflower soup. But that's just me;-). One of the staff there wanted to buy a dream catcher but she doesn't get paid until Monday. So after I finished lunch I went over to where she was sitting and gave her the dream catcher she had chosen, she just lit up. I told her if she felt compelled to pay for it, she could give the money to my friend Sam, he is in their recovery program and will not be allowed to take employment for several months.
Then I went to the park where I ran into an elderly man, never knew his name but he had stopped by last weekend and said he wanted to buy a dream catcher , would I be there next Sunday. I mis-spoke, and said yes. I would have felt so badly if he had not had the chance to buy his dream catcher before I left.
Later, I saw a man who lives at the mission with his girlfriend of 10 years. Last week we had the only conversation we have had since my arrival in this city. Though we often passed each other and occasionally nodded hello, we had never actually spoken. Our conversation last only 10 minutes or so but he told me that he had been with this woman for 10 years and she is his soulmate. I thought that was just such a sweet thing to be able to say after so many years with someone. Anyway I made them a nice little dream catcher with the word "LOVE" hanging from the top of the tails. All this week I looked for him so I could give it to them before I left and today I had that chance. We spoke for a few minute then he gave me a big hug and told me he would never forget me. Little things can mean so much in the homeless community.
Then I did a tarot reading for a couple of the workers from the drop in centre. Which seems to put the one girl's mind at ease. After dinner at the shelter where I stay. I walked down to the Mustard Seed where I was finally able to meet Mike's daughter, I know that was very important to him. On my walk back to the shelter, I gave my sandwich to some old guy who was too drunk to walk down the 3 blocks to get his own. I kept the yogurt bar in case our snack tonight was icky. But it was fruit salad with canned peaches again, which is o.k. with me I love that stuff. Then I took a dream catcher and gave it to Momma L as a thank you gift. She is only a few years older then me but she looks and acts like she's 70. In her own way she is a social worker and care giver to many of the ladies who come and go from this place.
By morning we will have our first 1,000 hits on the daughter wants 10,000,000 before the journey ends lol. What can I say the girl is ambitious...All in all it has been a perfectly lovely day.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

just BE and do it in comfortable shoes.

August 26, 2009
Wow only 36 hits and we will make our 1,000 mark probably be there by Friday. That is 1,000 different computers logging on in 83 days since George put the counter on. It blows me away that so many people are curious about my journey into homelessness.
I really believe it is humankind's natural state to care about and for each other... So why is there so much violence, pain, and separation among people? Damned if I know. I am reminded of a particular line from the bible where Jesus said (which many religious people forget) "Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and thy neighbour as thyself". And he said it just like that, in Jamesian English... Many people can't open their hearts to others because they haven't yet learned to love themself. Which is really sad because the Creator brings each new life into the world complete unto itself. Unfortunately, we teach children to judge and doubt themselves. We set them up to see life as a competition, you're a winner or a loser. Since very few of us win all the time most of us grow up with some level of doubt and self loathing. So by the time we are adults we find a standard of success, that allows us to be better than_________
Our success or self worth is based on our ability to judge others unworthy. If we have lots of money, we choose to believe those who have less are less successful ergo less worthy. Money is not the only barometer of success, there is religion, family, athletic achievement, intellect, even compassion. My point is that when we are insecure, we find something good in our lives and use it as a barometer by which to judge others lacking. What if you didn't have to be a winner or a loser...what if all you had to do was just be yourself. And that was perfect. You being perfectly you for this moment (there I go with the moment thing again) just loved and accepted without judgement. Now hold that feeling into the next moment, and every moment there after. Once we stop judging ourselves, we will have no need to judge others. We will be able to carry out the commandment to "love thy neighbour as thy self."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

You can't fillet a gold fish

August 25, 2009
A blind man walks into a bar.... He says to the bartender "I've got this great blond joke, wanna hear it." The bartender responds in a stern voice, "Listen buddy my name Sven I own this place and I'm blond.... my waitresses Candy and Tammy they're both blond and my bouncer Kevin ...he's blond. Now are you sure you want to be telling a blond joke in this bar?" The blind man thinks for a minute before he responds...."No, not if I'm going to have to explain it 4 times."
That is my favourite joke ever, my son James told me that one. If I want to make myself laugh I just have to say, "A blind man walks into a bar". If I want to make myself smile I just think of a lover I once had, who told me that all he wanted from our relationship, was to some day be the smile on my face that my husband didn't understand. To this day when I think of him I smile. ;-) see
Tonight I was on Face Book chatting with a former client, a young man in his 30s. During the coarse of our conversation. He told me that he loves me...I know I love him, as with many of the people I have known through my work. I've always said if you are going to be in social work, the pay is no hell... so you better do it for the love.
I don't feel like waxing philosophical tonight so I will just leave you this "A skeleton walks into a bar...says to the bartender, "I'll have a beer... and a mop."

Monday, August 24, 2009

what's the point?

August 24, 2009
Someone asked ,"What are you doing out there?" I asked "overall or day to day?" Her answer was "both". This a very important question, since I have put my entire life (& bucket list) on hold for two years to make this journey. After having given the matter some duly serious thought, I feel I can answer.
Day to day, what I am doing here is the same thing I did at the D.I. making each day a little easier and a little more enjoyable for the people I interact with. Spreading the sunshine that is Bonny as we joking referred to it. This person said,"what good is that...they may feel better for a moment or even a day, but tomorrow they will wake-up in the same place, with the same crappy life.". Maybe it's the Buddhist in me but I truly believe moments are important. If everything needed long term success, there would be no hospices or hospice workers. No clowns or teddy bears would visit the childrens' ward of the hospitals. The Sisters of Charity would go hide out in a nunnery; they are not in India curing leprosy, the nuns simply give aid and comfort to those afflicted. Does what I do (which is so little) ever have a lasting impact? According to the young man in the blog from August 9th it does. There could be many or just a few like him, I will never really know... whether it is a moment changed or a life changed it is enough. And it is more then I could do sitting at home watching T.V./ which is my favourite at home pass time LOL. As I said in Pondering Mortality (blog August 17) It is my legacy to be a pebble in the river of homelessness that is washing over our country. Making a small even indiscernible difference, but a difference none the less.
As for the the overall purpose for being here, I again am a pebble. The Buddhists say, "a pebble thrown into a pond (I'm tempted to say stagnant pond) will create ripples reaching out to the very shores, creating a slight disturbance within the water as it drops. Each person who visits my website has the opportunity to learn something they didn't know about homelessness and the people who live homeless in our communities. Perhaps they will share what they learn with someone or maybe next time they walk by a homeless person (or group of homeless) They will say good morning and smile as they pass. What I really want from the blogs and ultimately the book; is for people to see the homeless and street people as I see them. Without judgement, without fear, see them for what they truly are, just another person getting through life moment by moment the best way they can.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Yo' Momma

August 22, 2009
I was talking to a longtime personal friend (30+ yrs) tonight. She asked if I am not conspicuous just by who I am, a clean, sober fifty something woman. She was surprised when I told her that I have met 4 just like me in this shelter alone. My generation was not raised to think of careers or retirement savings plans. Women worked to add little luxuries to the family budget, but first and foremost you were a wife and mother. Many women find themselves in this position, being divorced late or widowed young. Too young for CPP and often considered too old to be employable.
Coming into the labour force in midlife is very challenging. First is the matter of training, personally I love to learn, but not everyone shares my enthusiasm. Also there are considerations of health and stamina which didn't impact us in our youth.
Many middle-aged women end up in retail or food services which generate an income around $1300 monthly take home for full-time. Unfortunately most of these jobs are kept to part-time hours which max out at just under $1000 per month, without benefits.
Being suddenly single carries with it a set of emotional, physical, psychological and even spiritual stresses. These make it hard to re-orient oneself and take the steps necessary to move forward into a new life. The natural state of depression that goes with a life loss can be exacerbated by the homeless environment. I have been fortunate to have raised caring, loving, supportive children. Some of these ladies have no children, or are estranged from their families. I'm sure for every middle-aged woman in a homeless shelter there are a hundred living with family (I lived with my oldest daughter) or friends. But fifty something is awfully young to have to give up your privacy and independence. Again we are looking at a segment of the population that falls into the category of working poor.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

And furrrther more

August 22, 2009
There were 2 other comments on the article Police Harassment of the Homeless, which I feel the need to address. Although I am quite sure the partys who wrote them will not be reading Angels of the Road any time soon.
First to the woman who quip that "you should not let them out looking dirty and dishevelled". The D.I. has 25-30 showers (assuming all are working) and services 1200 clients in any given day. We have 18 washer/dryer combos (assuming all are working) accessible from 8am - 6pm. The working guys, are at the labour office at til 6pm, often 6 days a week. They are lucky to get a washer 1 day per week so...the same clothes must be worn to work at least 4-5 times. Come home at night shower and crawl back into yesterday's clothes. Unlike your house, in a shelter the lucky ones have a locker (like the one you had in high school) for everything they own. So any more then 2 changes of work clothes is excessive. As for the implication that we, I assume she means D.I. staff, should make our street people clean up....In intox on a good night we have 1 staff per 20 takes 2 staff to shower a drunk... it is all they can do to shower and change the ones who urinate or defecate or bleed on themselves. If this lady has any practical suggestions on how to accomplish what she is suggesting I'm sure the DI would appreciate an email. Or perhaps she would like to open her home and shower to a few of the clients, maybe just 10 or 20 a day.

The second comment I wish to address was that the D.I. is a private company and we don't want to see the homeless problem solved because we'd be out of jobs. Best case scenario; we can hope through housing initiatives to eliminate 65 - 70% of the homeless. That would leave 400 patrons of the D.I. and about 1,000 homeless for Calgary (by the last homeless census). Quite enough to keep the staff and facility busy, without the overcrowding that goes on now. The staff to client ratio would be reduced to a point where real intervention could be provided to the street people who remain with us. As for the D.I. being a private company he is right, and shame on the Alberta government that caring for our citizens is left to private agencies. The D.I. is a registered NOT FOR PROFIT corporation. Our staff gets paid competitively for the industry but like all social work ... you better be in it for the love. Our executive probably and I'm only speculating gets double what the care workers earn BUT they are making probably only 25% of what they could make working for corporate Calgary or in the Oil & Gas Industry.
I am shocked by the level of ignorance (lack of information or knowledge) in some of the comments I read. Also for all the verbally flailing, no one actually offered viable alternatives to the system as it stands. It is my suggestion that all these people reserve opinion for subjects they have some understanding of. And please feel welcome to volunteer at any of the shelters to further your understanding of the situation then maybe you can become part of the solution. Angels of the Road is all about seeking knowledge to find solutions to homelessness in Canada. thanks for listening.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Calgary Police Target Homeless

August 21, 2009
I don't know if the link below will activate when published, if not just copy and paste the url to read the article. Of special interest to me were the comments from the general public. The police can clear up these accusations of unfair practices by simply producing statistics for the last three years. We live in the computer age. Mr the stats, how many misdemeanor tickets have been handed out to persons with residence and how many to persons of "no fixed address".
I would agree that laws should apply equally to everyone regardless of religion, race, sexual orientation, gender or socio-economic status. That is in fact the consensus from the comment section... So Please Mr Ritchie prove that is in fact the case.
Sadly I have seen this campaign of harassment in action. And a bylaw officer told the president of one of the downtown neighbourhood associations that "if they harass the homeless enough 25% of them will disappear". My response was "to where?" They will disappear into remand (approximately 4 days per ticket). For the street people (the stereo-type of homelessness that most civilians are clinging to) their life, for a few days will be easier. Especially if they can dodge the warrants until the cold weather sets in. They will go to remand be warm all day, sleep 23 hrs, eat 3 pretty good meals (compared to the fare in shelters) and have a chance to get detoxed for a couple weeks. I used to tell one of my gay boys, that Liz & Liza would never have lived to see 50 if they didn't clean-up once in a while. So remand is healthy and free... oh that's right not free YOU are paying for it. This is alright for the street people but what about the 50% of homeless who are working poor. Exorbitant fines $285. for trespass (cutting across Fort Calgary grounds)or $150 for loitering (stopping on the sidewalk to light a cigarette). My favourite was for loitering in a park...kind of thought that was what parks were designed for. Someone who is trying to keep working has to use the money they have been able to pull together for rent to pay fines or risks getting yanked off the street, thrown in remand and losing their job all together. How does this help our communities?
Apparently some of the commenters on this article failed to notice the MENTALLY CHALLENGED disciption of the guy who was given $1700 in fine over 2 days. Lets do the math 1700/185(average fine)=9.18 So this guy just happened to commit 9 misdemeanor offences in 2 days in front of police services officers...interesting I don't think I ran into police 4.5 times in any given day when I worked in Calgary at the D.I. How do they just happen to be present to ticket every infraction by this person?
As for the statement that police are only doing what they must to crack (no pun intended) down on crime. I have seen the police on more then one occasion confronting some old guy for public drunkenness on the corner of 5th & 4th while the very Large Somalian drug dealer wandered the flyover unimpeded. Just asking when was the last time you were ticketed for public drunkenness on your way home from the bar? As my daughter said the police have all kinds of time to ticket people for spitting in public (a disgusting habit) but no-one has time to pick-up the guy who stole her car. He is not exactly in hiding. By the way the cops walking past the city hall lrt station did not whip out their ticket books when the guy with the briefcase (50ish business casual) spit off the platform in front of me. But I remain open minded as I said show me the stats".
Also this campaign to clean-up downtown is forcing the homeless out of the core pretty downtown and into the neighbouring communities. The only REAL way to reduce the homeless population permanently is with affordable housing and supportive housing. The most effective way to accomplish that quickly, at the risk of repeating myself; is for governments, corporations, agencies and citizens to put as much land as possible into the hands of Habitat for Humanity.
One commenter said other cities do not have the same problem with homelessness that Calgary does. I have been to a couple of those cities, one has almost no homeless women and children, in that Province those group clean or not are provided with housing subsidies. In another city there are couple of dozen small apartment blocks providing supportive housing for the MENTALLY CHALLENGED, mentally ill (sorry don't know the p.c. for that one) developmentally challenged, brain injured, and physically disabled. Now that is how you get rid of 20% of the homeless permanently.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sleeping sickness

August 20, 2009
Because of an alleged fumigation of our shelter we were on lock out until 4 p.m. Such lock outs occur monthly at this shelter and daily at the men's shelters. I suspect this shelter was initially intended for battered women, which is why it has 24 hour access. There is a 9 p.m. curfew which unless arrangements are made in advance will result in an over night lock out. This is of coarse to keep the girls from being distracted by drugs or alcohol in the evenings. This month we were treated to a trip to the smallest zoo I have ever seen and a picnic with the most food I have seen since homeless summer camp. About a third of our contingent grabbed the picnic blankets and went to sleep for the day.
Homeless people are always sleep deprived, which is why you see them sleeping in doorways and parks all over the place. They are not necessarily passed out, from drinking all night. Dorms have from 30 - 150 people, sometimes on beds, sometimes on matts which are only inches apart. The lighting is kept dimmed but still enough for visibility, so staff can monitor the room. Even in a sober environment, staff must watch for theft, violence, illness or seizures. At least 25% of the clients are battling some virus that has them coughing, tossing and up & down all night, this keeps everyone around them awake. Oh and I forgot to mention 25% or more who snore; at least 3 or 4 having sleep apnea which means they sound like an ultralight circling the dorm. Sleep deprivation is especially true for the men staying in sober dorms because at least a few pints will dull the senses a little. I have only 1 room-mate and last night I probably didn't sleep more then 30 minutes at any one time. So next time you see some "bum" sleeping in the park, appreciate that this may be the only rest he has gotten in 24 hours.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


August 19, 2009
Permit me to begin tonight with a small rant. If you drive and most adults do...When the car in front of you is stopped at a crosswalk THERE IS A REASON. Usually that reason involves a pedestrian in the crosswalk. Do not go speeding around him at 35 mph. A small red car missed me by a few feet today with such a maneuver. If my bad knee had not been acting up, my pace would have been faster and I would be quite dead. Also had I been pushing a stroller the child would have most definitely been killed. The young man driving was probably in his mid-twenties, he would have had 50 years to live with the guilt and regret of that moment. Unless a vehicle has 4-way flashers on STOP or at least slow to 5 mph so you can stop, before killing some poor person who is just trying to cross a street.
To date we have made $100.00 toward the phone bill, that is 8 days of making and selling the mini dream catchers. Three more weeks, at this rate and we will be able to reconnect the phone and internet service. Would need to increase sales by 50% to prevent the shut off altogether. Thanks to everyone who made a purchase and if you haven't then please do... every little bit helps.
Today was not particularly eventful, since it was cleaning day so I was pretty much stuck at inside. Tomorrow is interesting though, we are having a field trip to the zoo and a picnic. Apparently they are fumigating for bedbugs...good luck with that LOL. Speaking of zoos, there was an article in the paper about an elephant which Zoo Watch wants to have relocated from her current zoo. Zoo Watch wants to garner public support for this move with a huge ad campaign, bus boards, billboards, newspapers etc. The ads reads, "Isolation & record cold winter on the way...hasn't she suffered enough." My mind immediately goes to the half dozen or more street people inhabiting doorways during the night, in this neighbourhood alone. And those who stay in the night programs, where the building is closed during the day. I'm imagining the grazing (walking from agency to agency to get to the next meal) we do now, being done in subzero temperatures. And what of the cart people, could you even push a cart through 6" of snow... will they just abandon everything they have. I realize these are street people and we are doing everything we can to keep them safe. But resources would not be so over burdened if we were proactive about helping Habitat for Humanity to create affordable housing. Get the working poor out of the shelters so we can focus resources on the street people who truly need them. As for the elephant I don't know enough about the topic to weigh in.
OK that was more like 3 small rants... and I thought I'd have nothing to share with you today. Thx for listening have a joyous day tomorrow ttyl.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Paris Hilton of the Homeless

August 18, 2009
If you haven't heard I received an inquiry from a news reporter about doing a story (do they call it that for tv?) on Angels of the Road. I was too late getting his email for the story to run last night. Which was perhaps a blessing because it gave me a chance to think the matter over. If I had been faced with a Yes or No... now or never situation I probably would have declined. My fear is of being outed... much of what I am doing requires anonymity. I believe there is validity in the Schrodinger Principle, that a thing being observed is fundamentally changed by virtue of being observed. People will act differently if they know they are being watched.
Staff at facilities see me as a homeless middle-age woman. They treat me like everyone else that comes through the door. If they knew there was a researcher in the room their attitude, demeanor and interactions would all be affected. For the better I imagine, remember when some adult from the superintendent's office sat in the back of your classroom "to observe"... we all behaved a little better.
As for the clients, I always felt when surveys were taken, much of the information given was skewed by what the respondent thinks the researcher wants to hear. By living as one of the population, reactions, opinions and behaviours are not monitored or modified for my benefit. The reactions and interactions I am encountering are genuine.
A news story would be wonderful to raise public awareness of the homeless situation. It would also help boost donation to Angels of the Road... as I keep saying homeless is cheap but research costs. The reporter in question is based in Calgary. So if he is still interested in running the story I will meet with him when I return to the city in a couple of weeks (I will be visiting and handling a few business matters then off to my next homeless destination). Perhaps we can work something out that won't jeopardize the project. You will of coarse be kept posted.

Pondering Mortality

August 17, 2009
The ambulance comes to our shelter every other day or so (it is a small shelter 75 women all ages). Attendants (sometimes 2 sometimes 4) ask questions, load the person onto a gurney wheel them outside, load them into the vehicle and drive them to the hospital. Often to return several hours later with a wrist band on and a prescription in their pocket.
When I was walking downtown yesterday morning, I saw an ambulance pull up to one of those big office towers. Attendants went into the building. I'm sure they asked questions, loaded the person onto a gurney wheel them outside, loaded them into the vehicle and drove them to the hospital. He or she will be in the hospital for a day or two, then return home with a wrist band on and a prescription in their pocket.
I was struck by the realization that, each of these people has a equal opportunity of being DOA (dead on arrival). Whether a tramp or a Trump we all end up dead.
This musing does not concern our after-life, it is about life after we are gone. It is about legacies and the value of one person to an entire future. The homeless are often given little value and sadly we often give little value to ourselves. Donald Trump has impacted thousands, some good, some bad. He has built monuments to himself which will stand after his death, until they are sold and renamed or meet a wrecking ball to build someone else's new great monument.
Alice died of pneumonia a couple of years ago, no family that I ever knew of. No newspaper headlines heralded her passing. No buildings carry her name into the next generation. To the casual viewer it would seem she was anonymous, but knowing Alice taught me about schizophrenics. A skill that helps me recognize and assess the potential of interacting with some of my new friends from the street culture. A skill which helps keep me safe out here. I am grateful to Alice for her legacy.
No monument I can build is a greater legacy then the children I have raised, who will raise their children, to be the same wonderful caring people that they are. No newspaper headline heralding my passing, can replace the tribute of a warm memory, of a moment shared whether on the street or with family and old friends. The Buddhists say "When you drop a small pebble into a mighty river, the coarse of that river is changed for ever." I suppose it is my legacy to be a pebble. What is your legacy?

P.S. We (which is me) doubled our sales in the park today, sold 2 dream catchers LOL. If sales doubled everyday we might just make our deadline...don't really see that happening though.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

much ado about nothing

August 16, 2009
Not sure I have anything interesting to talk about today. Brunch was good ...dinner sucked so we rushed over to this community church that serves 6-7pm on Sunday only. They had a great fresh fruit salad...filled in the gap quite nicely. It was a plesant day in the park just relaxed and wove dream catchers. Had half a dozen homeless and elderly ask if they could come back at month end to buy some.
There was a near fight in line at the church, a large native man slip into line and the guy 2 people in front of him took offence. Much shouting, cursing and threatening insued. Then they started with, "we'll take this outside after we eat..." I tried to suggest such insults should not be allowed to stand and they should take this outside right now. Mostly because we were all tired of listening to them bickering but at least partly because it would have moved me forward in line by 2 people ;-). What can I say I'm fitting in nicely LOL.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Roger check the end of July - 1st of August

August 15, 2009
I was sitting in the park today... licking my wounds and chatting with a couple of my homeless friends. Can't panhandle, can't solicit donations, can't busk, can't peddle my little dream catchers, I am just no good at fund raising. Now I know why big organizations hire professionals for such things LOL. As I was saying... I was with a couple of the guys whining about my inadequacies when a distinguished looking senior gentleman approached. He introduced himself as Frank Downey and handed me his business card. Mr Downey told us how he had spent several thousand dollars to sponsor a booth at the sports show going on in the park this weekend. He talked about a business meeting he had in the morning with his erstwhile business partner. Mr Downey told us he was a retired admiral, we talk about the royal family and succession to the throne. I am buying into the whole story... until Mr Downey said,"It's all about presentation... look like you belong and you do". One of my friends said "you stay at the same shelter I do". Mr Downey said "not any more I stayed out last night and lost my bed". Then he explained how he had lifted the Pierre Cardin jacket he was wearing. The whole conversation just brought home to me how little we can rely on appearances to accurately assess a person. I suspect I will meet Mr Downey again, probably over brunch at the mission and I will have another opportunity to enjoy watching him spin his elaborate yarns. ;-)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Quintessentially Mike

August 14, 2009
Blogging a little late tonight, sorry about that. It was raining all day so I stayed in making more mini dream catchers; which I will take to the park tomorrow, weather permitting. Online sales have been disappointing...I had truly expected more support from friends and followers of Angels of the Road. I'm going to keep trying right up until the phone goes dead. So if blogs stop, and I am absent from Twitter fear not I shall return eventually. Enough on that subject.
Tonight I want to introduce you to one my friends, whom I shall call Mike. Mike is the quintessential homeless guy, he has been on the streets for years and he is good at it. A wiry little man, with a three day growth of beard and shaggy shoulder length hair poking out from under a dirty ball cap. As you approach Mike on the street your pace quickens slightly, you're not frightened just uncomfortable. Quite certain that if you make eye contact he is going to hit you up for some "spare change" or a smoke. You're right, he probably will.
What you don't know is that Mike will share his last half cigarette with a guy who doesn't have one. He introduced himself to me on my first visit to the mission, telling me where to find the next meal. After that he became my self appointed tour guide. If there is a free lunch or give away going on, he made a point of telling me often walking me over so I wouldn't get lost. He never asked me for anything, not even a smoke. Mike knows everyone, he is unassuming, quiet and bit sad. He is nonconfrontational, I have never heard him complain or argue with staff or clients about anything. Mike is very accepting of his situation, I believe his drug of choice is crack. In all the weeks I have known Mike I've never heard him laugh... don't think I've really seen him smile either, until this week. I arrived at the mission for dinner where I saw Mike waiting in the line, he was glowing..;-). He had been contacted by his daughter whom he hadn't seen since the breakup of his marriage. Apparently the girl had been very young at the time and her mother thought it best to tell her that her father was dead. The daughter wants Mike to be a part of her life and she has a baby boy, Mike is suddenly a father and a grandfather. This is the first time I have ever heard Mike even mention wanting to quit the crack. Wanting doesn't make it so... but you can't make anything happen without first wanting it.
Mike is a "street person" the 30% who are chronically homeless due to personal priorities that fall outside those of most of the population. One day Mike may choose to put street life behind but either way it is his choice to make. We need to be more accepting of the presence of street culture and find a way to coexist in our communities. We need to build communities where there is a place for everyone, without judgement or recrimination, live and let live as the saying goes.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Children of the Church

August 13,2009
I sorta hope that sounds like the title of the next Stephen King novel. But in truth it isn't scary at all, I met about a dozen very nice kids (13/14yrs) volunteering at the Mustard Seed this afternoon. They are on some kind of church related field trip from Ontario, I'm thinking missionary work in the wild wild west. Actually the young man who co-ordinates the program explained that he is trying to change the commonly held misperceptions about homeless people by allowing the kids to interact with homeless people in a safe comfortable environment. I applaud his efforts, and I think the program has real potential to change the thinking of the next generation. I'm impatient I guess, can't wait for change to filter down through generations. I want to see every one's eyes opened and soon.
The gap between rich and poor grows every year and the numbers of people stacking up on the poor side of that equation grows... soon the scales of power will tip. I am not calling for a revolution (although it is exactly this kind of environment that breeds revolution)... I am calling for an evolution in the way we value people. We need to create communities that include all socio-economic levels. Attitudes toward poverty and the poor in North America are carry-overs from the 1950s,when there were more then enough jobs for anyone who wanted one. A time when families stayed together, more ever after then happily. A time when there was such a thing as employer /employee loyalty. Like everything else if our society wishes to survive it must adapt...we must evolve in our attitude and institutions. When ruling powers refuse to adapt to the needs of the population the result is never good for either side in the long run. Reference is often made to a swinging pendulum sweeping inevitably from one extreme to the other. By proactively creating the change we want we can control the sweep of the pendulum, and optimize the resulting kinetic energy. Simply put, if we make the effort to build a society that has a meaningful place (figuratively as well as geographically) for all our citizens; we can put all our energy into being productive as individuals, communities and nations. Energy that can be put into building a bright new future, not wasted struggling to cling to what are now irrelevant past values which divide us.
Boy this is not where I thought tonight's blog was let me end with a little anecdote. This morning I walked into the library and there was a group of deaf people vigorously signing to each other. So I approached the nearest staff and said in my most perturbed voice "This is a library, could you please tell them to keep it down". LMAO

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Passion and a new man

August 12, 2009
I never imagined we'd see 46 hits in one day, this is so exciting. Well, either people have really begun to care about the issue of homelessness or they will grab any chance to shop online or someone has started a rumour that Angels of the Road is a porn site. If that was you...thx, I think. Imagine if everyone who visited the site today, including repeat IPs, bought a dream catcher (just one each) I would have enough in 2 days to cover my dreaded outstanding phone bill. The new IPs alone represent a potential $230.00 (46 x $5). That is enough obsessing about mundane matters, (bills) the hit count deserves to be obsessed is wonderful news.
Today was interesting in several ways, it began with a resident's meeting where many ludicrous statements were made about the control of our bedbug issue. Hope they never look it up on the internet LOL. Kind of reminds me of the early 60s when air raid drills at school instructed us in the event of nuclear attack, "to get under our desks and cover our heads." Just about as useful LMAO. But fumigation day will result in a field trip to the zoo and a picnic, so who I am to correct their misperceptions. Also on the agenda was a request from the owner of a couple of nearby apartments to admonish our girls from hanging around his buildings... along with many other undesirable types that frequent there. Perhaps if he didn't rent his units to drug dealers (yes more then one) this would cease to be a problem.
Also added some photos on the TO DONATE page, that was a learning experience in sooo many ways. But I think the result was satisfactory.
Then I went out to dinner with a new friend, a very intelligent and interesting gentleman. He is a crusader for the rights of cancer patients to access alternative therapies. It is nice to meet someone else with that kind of commitment. Not everyone can be passionate about homelessness but everyone should be passionate about something. Not everybody can have the time or freedom to be a crusader for a cause...and that's really o.k. Every cause needs crusaders and every crusader needs followers who provide the encouragement and support to keep him/her going. Isn't it nice to know you are needed ;-)

To order Mini Dream Catchers.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Catching a big Dream

August 11, 2009
The day started out crappy, slept too late for breakfast club, the sky was dark with storm clouds and I was on the phone trying to get some kind of reprieve from my phone company. I now have until months end to pay my bill in full... which is better then the 15th anyway. After lunch the sun came out...the weather warmed and my disposition with it. As I have said before, control what you can and let the rest go. Since I won't engage in any illegal activity to aquire large sums of money quickly, I really can't control this phone issue. I'm not going to let it get in the way of what I have to do out here, as I told my son, "even if I have to go phoneless I'm still goin' homeless" . Don't worry I'll find a way to blog, even if I snail-mail blogs to my oldest girl and have her submit them online.
So with the sunshine on my head and back in my heart, I spent the afternoon at the park making my mini-dream catchers. It is actually quite a relaxing way to spend an afternoon. I make them to sell for $5.00 each... I thought for a moment if I could sell 140 before the end of the month I would be able cover my phone bill. Really though I'm lucky to sell 1 or 2 on any given day, helps with bus ticket and smokes and such. The only way to sell that many that quickly is to do so online. So here is the grand plan. Make a donation of($5 + $2.50 postage)$7.50 or more to Angels of the Road and I will send you a personally hand made mini dream catcher...state colour preference and mailing address in the message box for emails and paypal or enclose a note with cheques sent by mail.


Someday, when I am a famous author and vox populaire you will look at your dream catcher and be proud to say you were a part of this journey ;-)

Mundane Matters Matter

August 10, 2009
Being an idealist or crusader, I tend to forget about the mundane matters of business. The business of Angels of the Road is thankfully small and uncomplicated... more chihuahua then pit bull, none the less it has come back to bite me in the ass. I mentioned before my young friend who has fallen off the wagon and returned to the streets. It is of coarse in my nature to be very concerned for his well-being. I however, forgot to be concerned about the fact that he was paying my phone bill. Now I am a week away from losing my cellphone and internet service...awkkkk! Perhaps when we register as a charity next month our sponsor base will become more stable, but for now things are quite if you were thinking about making a donation this is an excellent time to do so. I attended a church service tonight by Women's Aglow, the lady preaching kept saying just ask God and it will be given. Since I am pretty sure God doesn't have paypal, I've asked Him to maybe talk to some of His friends about kicking in a few bucks given that it is an emergency.

The rest of my day was ok...didn't get to go to homeless summer camp. But lots of my friends who really needed the get away are now out enjoying nature and some really good food. I just figure there is something I need to be in town for this week, so God kept me here. Life is easier if you're just willing to trust a little. ;-)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Warm Fuzzy Blog

August 9, 2009
It is always good to hear that you made a real difference in someone's life. Today a young man I knew when I worked in Calgary, took the time to share some personal feelings about the last time we saw each other at the D.I. He told me how the night before he was to leave for Poundmaker (Native centred treatment facility) he spent the night "partying". Crack was his drug of choice. In the morning I went to him to wish him well and say our goodbyes...he told me he didn't know how he was going to get to the Greyhound Station. Apparently, I handed him $20 for cab fare, an action that would have made administration very upset with me, had they known ;-). My friend said he had been having second thoughts about entering treatment, and he could have taken that money across the street and scored some crack. But according to him that little bit of faith I had shown in him, made the difference, he was in a cab and however reluctantly off to his new life. You gotta love a happy ending.
Some times the smallest thing can turn a heart. The right words at the right moment. A small gift, I once bought a client a pair of pajamas LOL. A dream catcher for a boy who was having trouble sleeping. There are a hundred small things and the ones with the most impact are usually outside the job description. A birthday card in a locker or backpack...A hug and a big smile that just says "I'm so happy to see you!" Connecting with clients or kings isn't difficult once you realize that we are all just people doing the best we can with what we have to work with. We all pretty much want the same things from life, love, respect and a little kindness.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Old friend New friends

August 8, 2009
I have arrived... I sat down at brunch today and was joined by 5 of my friends from the population here. They didn't all know each other but they all wanted to sit at my table. I'm one of the cool kids....woohoo. Very exciting day in the park, it is the Caribbean festival this weekend. Colourful costumes, great music and the park was just stuffed with people. Fortunately I don't enjoy spicy foods so it wasn't difficult for me to watch the festivities without any money. Just pulled up a shady spot next to the fountain and made dream catchers...I'm actually getting quite good at it. It takes about an hour for each one. I went to the dollar store (homeless persons best friend) and picked up some more supplies. I will probably go back to the park tomorrow if the weather is nice. Many of the guys from the mission go over there after brunch to cool off and hang out.
Bearing in mind something my friend James Matheson told me before I started this journey. I took the time to contact an old (long time) friend from St Catharines, tonight. It was good to catch-up and do a little reminiscing. James had said, "that it is important to spend time with family and friends. That living on the street, (figuratively) one can easily get caught up in the culture and forget who you are and why you are there". I talk to family everyday and friends every week... these things keep me grounded in my real life. That and of coarse blogging to you almost everyday.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Imagine That

August 7, 2009
Today as I was walking to the bus station , I met one of my housemates, whom I haven't seen in more then a week. I crossed the street to speak to her, just Hi, how's it goin'. She asked if I was buying (crack)...I said no. To this she responded, If you're not buying get off the block. I told her to take care of herself and I continued on my way. The first thing that struck me about that encounter was how typical it is in this environment. Unfortunately the person being told to leave usually finds it necessary to assert themselves, resulting in sometimes nasty altercations. I however took the request for what it was... a fear that my presence would make her customers too uncomfortable about approaching her to make a buy. It strikes me as ironic how this situation parallels the problems faced every day by civilian business owners, when they have to shew street people and panhandlers away from the doors of their businesses.
On a happier note I ran into a former client, he left the D.I. in July of 2007 to attend the six week treatment program at Poundmaker. He has been clean ever since and is now married with a beautiful baby girl. He is still marginally employed and at risk of being homeless with any slight shift in their economic situation. About 50% of homeless are from at risk groups of working class and working poor. The first and best solution to their problem is affordable housing (shelter that consumes no more than 30% of a persons income). Every city needs working poor and working poor need a place to live. Look around you on Monday as you go through your day. The person who hands you your drive-thru, who vacuumed your office, who serves your lunch, who provides make your own list. I often thought it would be a wake-up call if everyone making under $14hr phoned in sick to work on the same day. Imagine that.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


August 6, 2009
Have you ever just wanted to curl-up in a ball and shut off the world? That's the way I feel right now...hit by another wave of depression. If I don't write you now, I may not do it at all. There is no specific incident bringing me down today so I'll keep a close watch on this one. Actually today was quite successful...I have proven that the rumour is true one who is homeless can eat 7 times a day in this city.
This morning I went to a local church which serves breakfast Tuesday thru Thursday every week. We had 2 pancakes, a bowl of oatmeal and 2 slices of toasts, second helping were available of oatmeal and toast. The thing that makes this place special is that they serve orange juice (not crystals) real fruit juice. At 9 am the Drop-in provides sandwiches, today was egg salad...I didn't eat I was too full from breakfast. Apparently there is an 11:30 lunch, I don't know the location except that it is close enough to walk from there to the 12:30 soup and bread at Marian House. At 3 pm the Mustard Seed provides sandwiches. At 5pm the Mission serves dinner which ends in lots of time to get into line at the Mustard Seed for the 7:00 pm dinner. Of coarse there are several over lapping meals at various locations. What is decidedly lacking is meat protein and fresh fruit...vegetables are usually of the frozen variety. I personally have (on week days), 3 meals and 1 late snack; tonight is a slice of fruit bread saved from lunch with 1/2 glass of milk I saved from dinner. So I ask myself how did I put on almost 10lbs...eating light and walking more then I ever did in civilian life? I am feeling a deficiency in my B vitamins these days, I'm getting increasingly jumpy. The supplements themselves are not expensive it is just the tyranny of the dispensing system here, there is no point in bringing such things into the building. Thankfully I will be home next month for a visit, some business, and to recuperate. My first month out I was afraid if I went home ,(slept in my own bed, took my pills all willy-nilly as I wanted ) I might not be able to bring myself to leave again. I am past that now...mostly because of your support I don't feel so alone when I'm on the road...for that I thank you all so much.

Habitat is all that

August 5, 2009
Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find something to write about everyday? Sometimes my day is just boring... today I was working on some mini dream catchers (2,5"), I have discovered the only fiber that functions on all levels for the weave is sinew. I am hoping there is enough in my bag from camp to do the 10 I have planned. I will have to venture out of the city core very soon...I need to find a Zellers store for cheap meds. I did arrange with the Drop-In to put me on standby for homeless summer camp next week.
Saw something interesting on Twitter, a news clip that Aaron posted about San Diego wanting to refurbish a decommissioned navy ship, for a homeless shelter. The city has 10 million dollars to fight homelessness and anticipates the floating shelter will cost more then that. Shelters are BANDAIDS not solutions! Call me crazy... but I think $10,000,000 could buy a fair size chunk of land... even in San Diego. I have said it before and for those of you who were spared that rant I will say it again, "Give land to Habitat for Humanity". They have the blueprints, the labour, the trades people, the building supplies...the only thing slowing them down is a lack of dirt to build on. Governments at all levels would be wise to just give them the dirt, then step aside and watch the affordable housing gap start to close. We have to rethink what it means to own a home, start including condos and townhouses to make the best use of the available space.
Let us take a quick look at some options I consider flawed. City Housing: rental units geared to income, often falling quickly into disrepair, due in part to the fact that as renters, tenants are NOT allowed to maintain the property beyond changing a light bulb and only then if no ladders are required. Also the city has little interest in sending a city maintenance worker at $30 per hour to fix a housing development that they don't have to look at or live in. Raising the minimum wage: this drives up the cost of living overall and produces no long term benefit for the working poor. Subsidizing rents in privately owned buildings: again huge sums of money are going from government into the pockets of the already well off landlords. These units are often charged out at over market values and are not as well maintained as units being rented without subsidy. Tenants on subsidy are afraid to protest inequities because they can't afford to move. Governments would likely save considerable amounts of money by handing these sums to the tenants and letting them find their own housing in a free market. Why governments choose not to do this is a rant for another time ;-)
We will never eliminate 100% of homelessness (see essay,"the Good, The Bad, & The Homeless" on the WHAT I'VE LEARNED SO FAR tab) but if Philadelphia's success is any example we can realistically shoot for a 70% reduction, using first affordable housing for the working class and working poor. Followed by supportive housing for those with mental, emotional or physical needs for such.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

a good day

August 4, 2009
Today was a good day in many ways. Although I only slept a few hours last night and woke up with my migraine still raging. I went to the Drop-in to sign up for the Adult Summer Camp which is on Aug 10th. I am torn about that... as much as I want to attend, to see how the camp normally functions (the small number of participant precluded a lot of planned activities at the first camp) I don't want to take a spot away from a homeless person who could benefit from the experience. Tomorrow I will talk to the workers and ask them to maybe just put me on standby. I'll go down to the centre packed to go on the morning of departure and see if someone fails to show up and a spot is open for me. That is probably the fairest way to do it.
In other news one of my new camp friends gave me the most wonderful distraction is a magnetic toy consisting of many small metal stars and moons. One can stretch it or configure it into an infinite number of shapes. Not that I need more distraction...I really must focus on some of the projects I have already started. Dream catchers, and jewellery and a baby sweater and much to do so many distractions LOL
After a very nice "ladies lunch" I was craving ice I went to the supermarket and bought a 24 pack of mini revellos. I ate one and handed out the rest to the homeless people I met on my way back to the drop-in. Sometimes we forget how much fun it is to just share...even with strangers.
If we can get 15 hits a day on the website we will make 1000 by month's end. I'm really excited about all the people interested in my journey of homelessness in Canada. So next month when I am in Calgary on personal business (and a visit with family) I will take the necessary steps to legitimize Angels of the Road by registering as a not-for-profit corporation.
My eyes are burning I really must say good night...thanks for visiting and I would love your feedback, please feel free to comment ;-)

Monday, August 3, 2009

acedominaphine + caffine

August 3, 2009
It was a pretty ordinary Sunday for a Monday... at brunch there was much talk of a Heritage Day picnic at some park but nobody quite knew, where, when or if. Great way to keep food costs down, I suppose. Today I am happy to say we broke the 600 hits...remember that is 600+ different IP addresses. I had George (my daughter) check the statistics for the site and it translates into almost 8000 visits, that is so kewl. Bad news is I have a migraine... which I totally believe is, God's way of telling me to be sensitive to people who suffer from migraines. When I was in my early 20s I had a friend with 3 small children who would get migraines. She would bring the children to my house, then she would go to the hospital for a shot of Demerol and sleep away the day. I never gave her a hard time about it and never refused her, yet in my heart I was thinking "what a wussy getting laid up by a freakin headache". So in an effort to teach me a little compassion on that subject the Creator allows me to share the experience from time to time. My migraines are far less frequent since I have done the menopause thing, for that I am grateful. That is my personal story of smugness and humility, but I have seen it happen over and over to people around me. When we are insensitive, judgemental or smug about another person's situation God steps in and gives us an opportunity to experience first-hand what is really going on in that world. I try very hard to remember that everyday. I have been blessed in so many ways. I had a childhood that taught me strength and independence. I have wonderful, bright, beautiful children who have grown up to people whom I genuinely like. They make so proud everyday. I have good friends, many of whom have put up with my eccentricities for decades now. O.K. the headache tablets must be kicking in I think I'm babbling... Anyway I guess I'm just saying be grateful for the good things in your life, and find a way to share that joy with those around you... friends and strangers. There can never be too much joy or too much love in this world.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Street crimes

August 2, 2009
It has been like old home week around here, I have run into 7 former clients from the D.I. over the past couple of days. Many of these people know the purpose of my journey... though a couple have expressed surprise that I have followed through on my word. One man said when he saw me in line waiting for dinner last week it made him smile. He was happy to know I was out here and happy to know I was safe. The elements are not an issue this time of year and I only stay in towns with shelters because part of my purpose is to assess the available services. As my daughter Margaret and I have often discussed there is a fine line between sheltering and enabling...I hope to gain some kind of insight into remedying that situation. It is a sad statement when people are surprised by the fact that someone would follow through on a commitment. Yes, this is a big commitment but I am convinced that what can be gained by the experience will change the popular view of Homelessness and Street Culture. I'm not afraid of the street violence, because (just like in the civilian world) very little of it is random... most altercations involve motive and people who have connections either personal or business.
I did however have a scary experience yesterday though, which I will share with you. I was standing in line (we do a lot of that) waiting for dinner. I felt something touch my shoulder...brushed my shoulder ...then felt something on my forearm. It was a black bug which I promptly killed, sorry I'm not as zen as my friend Hank LOL. Glancing at the man behind me in line I could see several open sores on his hands...guessing scabies (body lice). Fortunately a young gentleman I frequently lunch with came in and I joined him further back in the line...Thus extricating myself without having to scream, "ewuuuu..scabies!!! GET AWAY FROM ME ...yuk.
Sadly such parasites are common in shelters, we have head lice and bed bugs where I stay now. For the people with addictions they could go days before realizing they have been infested and sores can become infected and even develop into MRSA. Sometimes these situations require repeated treatments, which often get neglected by someone whose focus is on the next drink or hit. Providing health care to someone in this environment has its own challenges.
I have always openly and willingly hugged clients at the D.I. and I suspect I would do the same here. There isn't anything that can't be treated with Lindane or bleach LOL. And what a hug gives is way more lasting then anything I might catch.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Replacement Blog

July 31, 2009
Apparently the Creator (or google) didn't like my blog last night... I still haven't found it floating the cyberspace, so I will submit a new one. Same subject different focus. Homeless Summer Camp was a very good experience, every city should have one. The facility can accommodate 40-50 participant plus up to 10 staff. The facility is under utilized 5 camps 3-5 days long over the 10-12 weeks of summer. It could well be used from Victoria Day thru Thanksgiving (the cabins are not winterized) with 3 / 5 / 7 day events running every week. The facility is only a year or 2 old so the project is still developing.
Because of the timing (month end) many people had other plans. Only 6 of us went out initially and 2 were sent back for pot possession. I learned how to make a dream catcher...the guy who taught me (client not staff) made the amazing 3-d one in the attached photo. Also I tried my hand at carving soap stone. There is a 5 day camp in mid August which should be better attended. There wasn't much structure to the programs which I believe was an advantage, staff and clients were able to talk at length and just get to know each other. Clients shared stories about parts of their lives that had long faded from memory with the day to day challenges of coping with addictions. I was able to gain much insight into the thought processes that influence an addicts relationship with others. A subject near to my heart since my friend's relapse and consequent estrangement (his choice not mine) from me. It seems the addict believes everyone is judging them and assumes they are alone in the world...very strange.In truth I am quite sure the only person doing any judging is one's better self. My new camp friend was not able to give me any insight as to how I can overcome that particular barrier.
I guess the bottom line is camp was excellent for getting people to let down the barriers and creating rapport between staff and clients. It is important that camp be attended by regular staff from the host organization... there would be no point in build relationships with people who will never see each other again.