Street Tales: A changing time for me

Today will mark my last article as Potters Hands kitchen co-ordinator. In my mind, I am still one score in age, but my body reminds me daily that it is actually three score and 11. So I have decided to finally retire from work at the Potters Hands Kitchen.

Talk about mixed emotions. For the past eight years my wife has had me underfoot five days a week, and now it will be seven days a week.

But she is very gracious, so there is hope for me yet, LOL. Although I do have many hobbies, they can only fill up just so much time, so there will be a lot more time to fill somehow.

I have been blessed in that I have not been without a job since I was 15 years old, and now facing life without one, I find it all very intimidating and a little scary.

Although I have known and declared my retirement three months ago, I just now begin to realize how much I treated my work as the source of my life when it really isn’t; my faith and my God are, and if they really have been all my life, I should have nothing to fear about the future, but my humanness takes over at times and fills me with apprehensions.

The past 20 years have taught me the absolute most about who my neighbour really is, besides the one next door.

I have met so many truly beautiful, loving, generous, kind and caring people, but also those filled with sorrow, hurts, anger and even hatred.

At the kitchen I would very often meet all of the above all in one day! As well as the emotional side of these interactions, my desire to know what drives people was met almost every day and it is what gave me the fuel for the Street Tales articles.

Lately, many of the readers of these articles will have noticed that my tone has had a developmental change from wanting to do everything for those with addictions to the point today where I am more into the ‘Tough Love’ principle.

I’ve learned there actually is a very fine line between helping and enabling when it comes to working with those on the street, and it is people’s compassion and giving natures that very often cross that line.

In a book I read, the Canadian author told about a popular father who was watching his young daughter trying to stitch a piece of clothing.

Every time she would prick herself with the needle and begin to cry, the father had to restrain himself from intervening, knowing that if he did, she would never really learn how to handle things in life that could cause pain. So after the end of June, I would like to keep exploring through these articles how we might truly be of benefit to those who really need help; not always pandering to their whims and addictions.

As I now am at this crossroad in my life, I would like to thank first of all my God for giving me this ability to tell these stories, (which is something I’ve wanted to do since I was 15) but also the Red Deer Advocate for giving me this opportunity to express myself.

Then for sure I need to thank all those who continued to read and give feedback that has been about 99 per cent positive. Hopefully, the one per cent helped and will continue to help keep me honest and strive to be accurate in my renditions.

My last and sincerest thank you goes to Potters Hands Ministries for the opportunity to serve the folks that I have for the past 20 years.

My life has been changed because of it. May God continue to bless your work with those on the street.

Chris Salomons is a retired Red Deer resident with concerns for the downtrodden

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