All-nighters and the search for solutions

The air on Tuesday morning at five a.m. held the promise of a beautiful day in the making.

The air on Tuesday morning at five a.m. held the promise of a beautiful day in the making.

As I opened the soup kitchen, I of course didn’t know what to expect what with every day being different, so it came as a bit of a surprise when within five minutes, 20 or 25 folks came in.

Some were under the influence of whatever, and some were sober but cold. But almost all of them sat down and leaning forward onto the table, fell asleep. I learned later in the day that the emergency mat program started by Safe Harbour in response to Winter’s Inn closure last fall had ceased operation on Sunday past.

This is normally the time of year when Winter’s Inn would close as the threat of freezing to death is past.

We don’t start breakfast until six a.m., but we open the doors as soon as I get there and put on coffee, so it’s the perfect time for some to catch 40 winks. Forty winks is about all they will get, because tired as they are, sleep is hard to come by in all the noise and activity of a kitchen and the comings and goings. Some are so exhausted that they could sleep through a world war.

This year, and especially in the last four or five months, there has been a subtle change in this population. Part of this change stems from the transient nature involved in homelessness; but some of the change is from policy changes and new regulations that are inherent with a change in policy makers.

This change is the increase of aggressive behaviours that are exhibited.

I for one am extremely aware of the attitudes that emanate from the general population toward the street people and their antics, and in some cases I empathize with them. Anyone who works in this field will at times become overwhelmed with the constant barrage of needy people, and if this feeling is allowed to fester, it destroys the compassion required to be able to work with these otherwise beautiful folks.

Two thousand years ago it was written, “You will always have the poor with you,” and sad to say, it was a very prophetic statement because we still have them.

We cannot deal with them by legislating them out of existence, nor can we drive them away by withholding funds to help them, so we have to come up with inventive ways to reduce the harmful effects of poverty.

From experience through the efforts put in, we periodically see some individuals grab hold of a helping hand and pull themselves out of their impoverished state. Others, because of health issues (both mental and physical), will always be in the condition of poverty.

And others choose to be there.

There are many people in our community, both in the private and the public sector, who are very imaginative when it comes to generating solutions to seemingly impossible situations. The greatest problem to utilizing these resources comes from others who want absolute control, thereby preventing all sides working together, which results in the following scenarios:

These folks who came into the kitchen at five a.m. were up all night. I don’t know about you, but my hour has 60 minutes, each of which have 60 seconds, which can be really long if you have nothing to do. So in order to fill all those hours, imaginations devise all types of activities. A good friend states that nothing really good happens after dark, especially when you introduce alcohol and/or drugs.

The last two Sundays, I have listened to the testimony of “Cinderella” (a subject of previous articles) in her recovery and the struggles she faced in making dramatic changes in her life. As well as being a heart-rending yet joyous story, it adds strength to the fact that efforts to help are needed.

The present city council has learned that there is no easy fix, but hopefully they can utilize all the different agencies and that together — and I mean together (without claims of ownership) — we can become a community that does all it can to promote the well-being of all of its citizens, including the All-nighters.

Chris Salomons is kitchen co-ordinator for Potter’s Hands ministry in Red Deer.

Just Posted

WATCH: Rappelling down Red Deer’s Stantec Building a thrilling, scary experience

Advocate reporter chronicles his trip down the 13-storey buildling

Red Deer raises $60,000 for Make-A-Wish Foundation

27 brave residents rappell down Stantec Building

People hurt in rollover near Red Deer

Occupants of a vehicle that rolled south of Hwy 11A were airlifted… Continue reading

Eager-beaver cannabis entrepreneurs already waiting outside Red Deer City Hall

Appications will be accepted on a first-come basis starting on Tuesday

Like father like son: Red Deer area Dreeshen family dedicates life to public service

There are three jobs that could be considered the Dreeshen family business:… Continue reading

WATCH: Gazebo groundbreaking in Waskasoo

Fifty per cent of the $100,000 project is funded by a provincial government grant

Woman killed in collision near Olds

A woman is dead after a collision west of Olds Saturday afternoon.… Continue reading

Evacuation numbers remain at nearly 1,000 as B.C. wildfires rage on

SUMMERLAND, B.C. — Officials in British Columbia’s Okanagan region hope that fire… Continue reading

Survivors recount deadly Missouri duck boat sinking

BRANSON, Mo. — “Grab the baby!” Those were the last words Tia… Continue reading

HMCS St. John’s to return to Halifax after six-month deployment overseas

HALIFAX — The countdown is on for the homecoming of a Halifax-class… Continue reading

Trump says lawyer taping him may be ‘illegal’

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — The Latest on President Donald Trump and his onetime… Continue reading

Spieth part of 3-way tie for British lead as Woods lurks

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland — Jordan Spieth has a share of the lead in… Continue reading

WWII hero’s lost Purple Heart returned to his family

NEW YORK — A lost Purple Heart medal has been returned to… Continue reading

California girl, 2, accidentally shot and killed by boy, 4

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Authorities say a 4-year-old boy accidentally shot and… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month