Down, But Not Out

An introspective examination of the tragedy of homelessness in the richest society ever to exist on Earth

Homelessness is not an accident. Homelessness is not a problem. Homelessness is a political agenda. Why else would there be so many homeless people in the richest country that ever existed on the face of this planet.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Saint of CNH

Every day, rain or shine, regardless of her own personal discomforts, there is an outreach worker trudging through the ravines, the valleys, the back alleys of this city. Her mission is to locate homeless people in peril, and without her vigilance, there would surely be far more unnecessary deaths among the homeless than the disgraceful number we presently account for.

The easiest way to reveal the extent of her services to these abandoned souls is to paraphrase the message one receives if for some reason she can’t answer your telephone call. It goes something like this.’ This is …………., tell me what you want me to do for you, and how to find you, or call back later.’ This open ended invitation to request her services in any area is for real! When a homeless person asks her to do something, anything at all, if it is within her immense abilities to accomplish it, it will be accomplished forthwith! If someone hasn’t received the monthly pittance which Ontario Works doles out, (usually because of an unjust disqualification?) our saint will be instantly on the case, and she won’t give up until the injustice is corrected. If someone needs to get to a doctor or court she will pick them up and chauffer them there. If someone requests assistance in finding housing, she will drive them to view available accommodations and negotiate with the landlord on their behalf, (translated: persist in persuasion techniques until the landlord relents and agrees to acceptable terms.) The list of her services is practically endless; help moving into a new home; a free mattress delivered from Sleep Country; a lift to a shelter, or somewhere to get a sleeping bag, or a free meal; a bottle of water on those hot days when dehydration takes it’s toll; or just a friendly face directed to a person who has grown accustomed to scowls. Whatever the real or perceived need, our saint is there to help.

After a full and exhausting day on the hard streets of Toronto, one would think she would go home to relax. Not likely! If you were to visit her home on the average evening, you would open her front door, which is never locked, to a scene which would strike awe in your heart. Before you is a little woman, well over half a century in age, busy discussing a problem with one of her clients, (translated: homeless person) in her own home, no less, hours after she has completed her daily duties on the streets. Her phone, which is rarely turned off, will ring every five or ten minutes with requests for help or advise. Her dinner table is covered with forms and reports and news clippings and just about anything but a meal. If someone doesn’t remind her to eat, she’ll probably forget. And so you will see the routine scene which dominates her home life until she finally drops into bed, exhausted, only to rise again in the morning to start again.

Our saint lives a life of total dedication to the alleviation of suffering on the streets of Toronto, and true to the nature of any real saint she insists on remaining anonymous.

Please pray for her rapid recovery, for my friend has worked herself ill. God bless her.

If you know of someone who does wonderful things to help those who can’t help themselves, we need to hear the story. These indispensable people may be the only hope for this civilization. Everyone needs to know that they are with us giving hope to the hopeless, for without them, we are all hopeless.


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