Monthly Archives: October 2010

street kids

ive met too many of these kids not to post this in the hope that someone (maybe just one person) might watch it and actually care enough to do something.  anything.

the video says it better than i can.

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luck of the irish?

a random story from my day..

i met a guy named irish yesterday. easily one of the coolest guys ive ever met. another dude with a hard past but an awesome outlook on life. we had lunch together with paul and he told me his story and where he was at today. we talked about life, death, God and drugs. covered all the bases. we exchange numbers and i tell him to let me know if he wants to hang out sometime.

so i get a text today from irish. he wants to meet up and talk. late afternoon in front of the courthouse. i get there first and find a perfect bench for people watching. he finally gets there, sits down next me on the bench and tells me he has to head to court for a small claims hearing. a past landlord had trespassed into his apartment and thrown most of his stuff into the garbage while he had been away. landlord must have figured he could get away with it because irish was a recovering addict. what kind of credibility does an addict have? well, this one has a lot. irish is no slouch. hes a smart fella i tell ya. he made sure to cover all his bases and got a stack of paperwork proving his case. wasnt even close. tko.

i kind of see why people watch those stupid judge shows, like judge joe brown and judge judy. ive always made fun of my friends who watched those shows but after sitting live in that courtroom, wow! thats entertainment! i probably would have paid to watch a few of those cases. watching people try(poorly) to bs a judge is fairly entertaining. i recommend it for anyone who hasnt seen the live thing.

random ‘moral of the story’ taken from my random story: hiring a lawyer may cost some money but it saves you from looking like a fool in front of a courtroom of people.

i may go back next week.

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what do we value?

something really struck me hard the other day.  im only now finding the words to describe it.

so as a people left st. andrews after sunday dinner, we began to take the empty chairs and tables and began stacking them away til next sunday. as i was collecting chairs around one of the tables a woman tapped on my shoulder and reached out her hand to give me something. it was a knife. a quite dangerous knife, most likely used for violence telling by its specific design. “can you do something with this, please?” i raised my eyes  to see her and saw she wasnt alone. her young daughter who couldnt have been older than 9 sat at the table behind her. she looked like a younger version of her mother. she told me she stepped on it as she got up from her seat. it was easy to see the look of worry on both her and her daughters faces. i took the knife and got rid of it, at the same time thinking “they shouldnt have to deal with this”.  now, i dont know their entire situation or how they came to be there but i know that no child should have to grow up around violence.  no child should have to grow up in poverty, especially in a first-world nation like our own thats more than abundantly rich. unfortunately, far too many children in canada have to live in poverty. ive read a few stats on child poverty in canada with one study i read saying 1 in 6 and another saying 1 in 5 children live in poverty. as canada stands roughly at 33 million at the present hour, thats a lot of children either way.

so the question is – what do we most value?

happiness?

comfort?

money?

acquiring more stuff?

where is family on the list? is it even on there..? is it that important to us? it should be!

strong countries are built on strong societies which are built upon strong communities which are built upon strong families. if our family units are weak, we’re all weak. we need to stop thinking about ourselves and start thinking about the collective. i realize this is a foreign thought lost in the midst of the large shadow of western consumerism, but ask yourself, does ” stuff” really make you that happy?    has the empty philosophy of materialism made our lives (collectively) better?  i dont believe so. heck, i know it hasnt. just look at child poverty for one moment. one moment! go to google and type in ” child poverty”. you wont need to look much further. the proof is in the pudding, yet, we continue to consume and consume and consume and we forget (purposely?) about the struggling members of our communities, our societies and our countries. im going to bore you for a second with a few more stats and tell you that we have some 3 billion people in this world living on less than 2 dollars a day and that 1 person dies every second as a result, either directly or indirectly, of hunger – 4000 every hour – 100 000 each day – 36 million each year! we could save many of these people. we have the resources to help. why dont we?

so what can we do?

support your community. find a program whose mission is to build up community from within. join them. help kids, talk to youth and reach out to a lonely elderly person. tons of grant money for social programs go unclaimed every year. funding that could change the lives of a lot of people. write a proposal and help run a community-based program. be a big brother or sister. help coach a sports team. reach out to young single mothers. serve a meal at a homeless shelter. find someone in need and help. you might just like it 🙂

rant over/

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mad scientists and 80’s drummers

 

i had just walked in the front doors of st. andrews church, where every sunday night a few hundred meals are served , and out of the corner of my eye i see this white blur. if he had been wearing a white lab coat you would have sworn he looked like a mad scientist. crazy, wild white hair and all! ive only known beaver for a few days now and already i have him pegged. hes probably done the same to me. curiosity has me wondering how far off we both are. time will tell.

boy, do they know how to pump out free meals at st. andrews. with nearly 20 volunteers serving to nearly 200 guests we had a dish in front of everyone in about six minutes! i couldnt believe it. in all my years volunteering in soup kitchens, shelters, churches and halls, never have i seen so many meals served so quickly.

beaver is constantly smiling. he wears one of those grins that leads you to assume hes up to something he shouldnt be. maybe he is and for all i know ive figured out his tell. for his sake he better not play cards and gamble with me.

paul introduces me to another guy named dave. previous a drummer for an 80’s hair band back in the day, dave has struggled with his addiction for too many years but is closer than hes ever been to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. he promises me to be my tour guide around the city. nice!

as i was serving a few meals a hand reached out and grabbed my arm. i turned to look and saw a tall, slender older lady with a giant smile on her smile. “we need to talk after”, she told me and continued on her way. when everything had been cleaned up and most of the people had left, jovita came over and introduced herself. she was a local nun who was very involved in helping the homeless in halifax. i had never met a nun before. the stereotype in my head, probably built from television and movies, didnt prove to be right. jovita wasnt a short, stout, sour looking woman wearing black and white head to toe. instead she was nearly as tall as me, warm, soft-spoken, eager to help with whatever she could and wasnt wearing a stitch of black or white.  television, how you have failed me.

as i was leaving jovita caught me and told me to come visit her parish. while im not particularly crazy about catholic churches i promised her id stop in tomorrow and chat with her. im fairly certain any other stereotypes i had are about to be tossed out.

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saturday morning

staying up til 3am blogging last night + alarm going off at 630am to serve breakfast = not a good combination. luckily, when paul pulled up in his jeep to pick me up he had a hot timmys beverage waiting for me. good man. paul is a gentleman i met last week through my new pastor brad. paul’s son wandered off the straight  path when he was a teenager and fell into the world of drug abuse. determined to find his son and get him off the streets paul started hanging around the rough parts of halifax, looking for him and at the same time talking to kids about getting them off the street. years later his mission completed (son off the streets!), he continues to reach out to those he finds living off of shelter breakfasts and other handouts. inspiring dude.

so we pull into the parking lot at the brunswick street mission, an extension on the brunswick street church, and the cold fall morning blasts me as i step out of the jeep. theres that maritime cold i had heard so much about! quickly up the stairs and past a few hungry rats we’re in the front doors and welcomed by a couple dozen or so members of the community chowing  down on some pancakes and sausages.

paul starts up a conversation with an older gentleman in the crowd he apparently knows well and introduces me. the man shakes my hand with a strong grip, a big smile and tells me to call him beaver. now at 55 years of age, beaver looked like a slightly skinnier version of santa clause but with a much better character. sorry to all those saint nick fans but come on, that guy never brought me the time machine or the laser i asked every christmas for from the age of 7 til, well, i still ask. what a crock. so beaver and i talk. well, to be more accurate beaver talked and i listened as he told me most of his life story. lucky to be alive he said, and he talked like it. humble and thankful. hope im like that when im older.

since beaver and i talked until he was the last community member left i didnt have a chance to speak with too many other people, but the conversation with the man who got his nickname from catching frogs and newts in the marshes behind his house was well worth it. he jabbed my arm with a wink and as he walked out the door told me i had to talk more next time. ha!

maybe ill pick my spots better next time.

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greetings from the east coast!

i did it. i traded the gorgeous shores and mountains of british colombia for the shores and hills of halifax. not entirely a fair trade but its as close as it gets (or so ive told myself). ive been here just over two weeks now and im finding maritime life to be quite enjoyable. weather has remained warm well into late october. pleasant surprise. people here are very friendly and laid back, reminiscent of my upbringing on the rock (aka. vancouver island). i like that. makes it feel like home.

life here is certainly running along at a different pace than what i was used to in vancouver. not a bad thing but not necessarily a good thing either. i realize now that i had taken a lot of things for granted. i suppose better late than never, right? maybe, maybe not..

regrets are the worse type of psychological baggage.

so..

i was walking around downtown halifax the other night, getting familiar with my new home ( and thus hills!). passing by long, dark alleys that looked eerily similar to those back home in east van, i half expecting to see junkies or working girls i knew from working at the shelter.. but nothing. completely empty except for a small rat flashing between garbage cans looking for food. all i could think of was “the rats were bigger back in van”, and for some reason that made me miss home. weird, i know.

i spent the next few hours walking the “bad area” of halifax, trying to forget the warnings about shootings and swarmings (random and senseless mob violence). dont get me wrong, i wasnt trying to be tough and macho by any stretch, i just figured that the homeless population would most likely be in the bad areas, like they usually are. no such luck. the streets were ghost town quiet at 11pm. not used to that. i have to admit i was a bit sad. sure, im happy that most people here find a warm place inside to crash at night. if only other cities homeless population were so fortunate.. i was more sad for my own personal selfishness (cue confession time). while it sounds very weird and slightly crazy to most people (fully crazy?), i love hanging out with homeless people. some of the most compassionate, intelligent, artistic, well-spoken, creative, insightful, loving, courageous, and overall interesting people i met were (and most still are) homeless. i genuinely miss being able to step outside of my front door, walk a hundred or so yards to the alleyway and find people (many of whom i knew) to talk to. i miss hearing about their day or maybe their week. i miss talking to them about life and them give me their advice. i just miss.

tomorrow i head down to a local church for help serve breakfast to people living on the streets. time to start making more friends.

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nightshift

trying to say goodbye to everyone you should or want to isnt an easy task. with my last thursday night here in bc for who-knows-how-long i went to whalley to hang out with my street friends for a while and say some goodbye’s. lots of familiar faces filled the line for soup and sandwiches.

devon, whose jamaician accent makes it very difficult for me to understand, had lost so much weight i barely recognized him at first. i guess losing 50 pounds will do that. james, a young guy in his mid 20’s just got kicked out of another apartment for reasons he didnt care to share with me. he swears the drugs didnt have anything to do with it but the way he looks over my shoulder when he tells me that makes me believe otherwise. sarah gave him a bible and told him to read up and smarten up. hope he listens. little dave showed up and greeted me the same way he does every time: by jumping on my back when im least expecting it and occupied with something else. ive known little dave the longest out of all my street friends and definitely have a soft spot for him. little dave is turning 36 years old on saturday but has the mentality and maturity of a ten-year old boy. hes kinda like the little brother i always begged my mom to have. kinda.

when the food is all served and the soup and clothing truck is packed up, those that want to gather together to talk and pray about life. as we’re getting into it greg, the leader on thursdays, lets everyone know that larry has passed. larry and his wife clara had been coming out on thursday nights for as long as i had been coming out to help (3 years). they were an elderly couple in their late 70’s who had been forced to live in their car after being wrongfully kicked out of their trailer. a few of us had tried to get them into an elderly apartment complex awhile back but, while they said they hated it, living in their car had become a routine they were locked into. i usually talked with clara every thursday. she would ask me about school or work and id ask her about larry’s health which always seemed to be pretty bad and getting worse. larry often stayed in the car while she came and got him his food so, sometimes id sneak into the car when she was waiting in line and talk with him. he had a great sense of humor for an old man living in constant pain in the confines of a beat up buick. he would tell me stories of his past and id tell him there was soup running down his chin. good trade-off. im going to miss him.

rest in peace, larry..

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