There are many ironies that you find yourself involved in when homeless or on welfare. Some are just amusing, some are small inconveniences, but some are large difficulties and hugely ironic. Getting something to eat on Sunday is one such large irony. While the (warm, dry) churches are full of people exclaiming their Christianity and love of their god, the streets are full of their fellow man exposed to the elements and struggling to find something to eat.
When you are warm, dry, healthy and well fed missing a meal or not eating for a day has no consequences outside of you feeling hungry. It is a minor inconvenience and so you tend to think of one day of no food as ‘no big deal’. But for the homeless and the poor that one day of nothing to eat can be a Big Deal, especially at this time of year (winter0. It is cold, wet and windy in the outdoors where reside the homeless and the poorest of the poor. They are cold and wet, the wind stealing their body heat. Food becomes not something to be tasted and enjoyed but FUEL to feed the body’s fires and keep the body’s core temperature up. Not only to avoid severe discomfort but for survival. Yes I do mean survival. Those unfortunates we hear of frozen to death in Ottawa, Toronto or Edmonton are the ones you hear about because corpse-sicles make such good headlines. Those who die in less headline grabbing ways are just as dead but become just overlooked and forgotten obituaries. No, I am not being overly dramatic. Already this wither several have been in hospital with pneumonia. They could have died 9and some undoubtedly will) of pneumonia. But the true cause of death will be Homelessness. And what does it say about us that they emerged from a bout of pneumonia and their time in the hospital looking better than they had in months? There are many other adverse health effects that can be caused by hunger when that hunger is complicated by exposure to the elements and the many other health issues facing the homeless.
Thus, you develop a real appreciation for those who take it upon themselves to step up and fill a desperate need. There is the couple who have been handing out bags of edibles out of their own pockets. They have become treasured treats, giving joy and pleasure to those who have far to little of either. Then there is the church group who on the first Sunday of the month has been providing warm food often real and tasty chili on a cold windy day. Mmmmm chili! And they on occasion bring those luxuries: toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, deodorant etc. Lately another group has take on responsibility for the second Sunday of the month.
To me the real heroes of this tale are the Bag Lunch People. A cheese sandwich, a peanut butter sandwich, a piece of fruit and cookies in a brown lunch bag. It may not sound like much, but on a wet, cold windy day is manna from above to the hungry. This church, these people took it upon themselves to fill the huge void that Sunday represented. Three out of four Sundays they were there without fail to relive that hollow feeling of hunger. They cover the Sundays no one else does and should one of the other groups falter they would undoubtedly step in an fill the need. So while I extend thanks to the couple, to the first Sunday folks and to the second Sunday people who have stepped up to provide help to those in need, I reserve and extra large THANKS for the lunch bag gang who stepped in to fill a large, real need. Addendum: This past Sunday the lunch bag gang rode once more. They arrived later than they normally would, so that if the first group did serve lunch as scheduled, their bagged lunches would serve hungry stomachs as dinner. Should this sound like a group you would like to hang around with you should look for them more properly named: The Open Door; Pastor Bill 604-897-4826.
Special thanks to the young people who accompany and assist their parents on Sunday’s. There is a lift to one’s spirit in seeing the zest and joy for life in the young.