Friday, 13 January 2017

February 3, 2009


You are all very brave and committed volunteers. When it started snowing early yesterday and then all through the day, I was under the misconception that absence calls would start pouring in due to the driving conditions and delays.  Thankfully that didn't happen, nor did anyone have any mishaps! As a result, 124 dined and 31 slept over.

Misconceptions can sometimes be eye-opening revelations.  We all harbour preconceived ideas when it comes to other people, don't we? Maybe not always, maybe not for everyone. Often when fresh volunteers come to OOTC, they admit that at face value, many of our guests don't look needy, yet they are down on their luck. Many guests who look dishevelled will have the richest of words! Who can say how anyone can conduct themselves just because they are rich or poor.

Remember the song from "Finian's Rainbow," titled "When the Idle Poor Become the Idle Rich?"

When a rich man doesn't want to work
He's a bon vivant.
But when a poor man doesn't want to work,
He's a laughter, he's a lounger
he's a lazier good for nothing
He's a jerk!

When a rich man loses on a horse
Oh, isn't it disport!
When a poor man loses on a horse
He's a gambler, he's a spender
He's a low life, he's a reason for divorce!

When a rich man chases after dames
He's a man about town,
But when a poor man chases after dames
He's a bounder, he's a rounder
He's a rotter, and a lot of dirty names!

You'll never know
just who is which.
When de idle poor
Become the idle rich.

When poor tweedle Doe
This rich tweedle Dee
This discrimination will no longer be.
When we leave undone
and out of the nuts
You won't know your banker.
from your but...ler.
Let's make the switch.
We just a few a'newer 'n' this
We'll ride this incongruityies
With clothes from Ava Crombing Fitch

When de idle poor
Become the idle rich.

Let me give you the scoop on three of our homeless guests.

Colleen's mother normally resides in a nursing home, but has been in hospital for weeks. She just adores her mom and is weak from the stress. Colleen spends all day at the hospital and then comes to us to sleep and eat. By 6:30 last night, Colleen was sleeping sitting up in a chair.  Most people think that the homeless have no one to love, or no one that loves them. Not always true.

Two nice buddies walked in at 6:45 tired, cold, and wet ... yet elated!  They had spent the day going from one shovelling job to another, feeling fullfilled and useful.  They were given dry socks and hot mac n cheese beef casserole, veggies, bread, salad, hot cocoa, etc. Many guests ask if they can volunteer by setting up chairs, tables, anything, ... all of the time.

Who says that the poor don't want to work?

And finally, Cameron. Clean cut, eloquent, late 40's, probably homeless for a few months. I don't want to think that I have the wrong idea about him. After beginning to gain his trust and speaking to him, he has so many fresh ideas about what would help the other overnight guests. When I asked him what would make him happy, he quietly talked about one particular part of his existence which he wishes he could change.  There is never any solitude in his day. Even in public places which purport to be quiet, there are always people in motion, distractions, danger, noise. Would there be someone that could permit Cameron for a few hours a day or every other day or once a week, to use a room, an office, a silent area to write, to read, to think. Downtown area. It could be on a trial basis, short term, perhaps a casual interview at OOTC to meet one another. Please, please, if you believe that you can consider this request or are thinking of someone else who could offer it, contact me.

It may change your fixed misconception of just one face of homelessness. It may give someone hope and help clarify that which has landed him in this unpleasant situation.
Remember what I said: You are all brave and committed volunteers.

See you all next week,


Dear Cindy, your leadership and encouragement much appreciated. Thanks too for reminder from Finian's Rainbow. Blessings! George and Sybil.

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