Open doors, open hearts

To all those involved with Red Deer’s Youth Winter Inn project who opened their hearts to assist 49 teens seeking shelter from the personal storms last winter.

Bouquet…

To all those involved with Red Deer’s Youth Winter Inn project who opened their hearts to assist 49 teens seeking shelter from the personal storms last winter.

Clean socks, a seemingly insignificant garb, were among the items handed out by the Inn to the youths — many haunted by addictions, broken families, low self-esteem and hopelessness.

The pilot project by the Youth and Volunteer centre for intoxicated or homeless youth between the ages of 15 and 17, far exceeded expectations — five to 10 times more youths were accommodated than anticipated.

It’s a sad situation. But programs such as the Winter Inn met those unexpected demands through dedicated workers, a caring community and financial assistance from the City of Red Deer and the federal government.

Program manager Rose Hatfield said when discussions started two years ago about developing a winter shelter for youth, only five to 10 youths were expected to use it.

Hatfield estimates between 80 to 85 per cent of the youths, the majority aged 17, had addiction issues. She said she was impressed by the support for the project from community businesses, groups and schools to help out.

The Inn ran from Nov. 1 to April 30. The Youth and Volunteer Centre collected donations to keep the site open from April 15 to 30.

“It really opens your eyes to a sense of an appreciation of what the small things can do,” said Hatfield.

Yes, the small things can move mountains. These heart-felt actions have the awesome power of restoring dignity and confidence to a youthful person who would otherwise feel insignificant in today’s rat race.

Dart…

To the yahoos in Montreal who celebrated their hometown hockey team’s second-round playoff win Wednesday running amok and trashing local businesses.

The celebrations gone-rotten were predicted long before the puck was dropped at the start of the first period. Win or lose, it was a given there would be a riot and looting.

What’s with these goons, anyways? Darn good thing the Habs won; the aftermath could have been worse.

After the dust had cleared, about 41 people were arrested. And Montreal business owners are rightfully concerned about what’s going to happen during the ’ next playoff series.

Historically, for some reason the goons of Montreal celebrate the good and the bad with riots, even during sacred holidays.

Riots have frequently tarnished that province’s most sacred holiday commemorating Saint Jean-Baptise.

In 1993, when the Canadiens won their last Stanley Cup, rioters took to the streets in a violent outburst that resulted in widespread damage.

Rioters took to the streets in April, 2008 when their team wrapped up the best of seven quarter finals against the Boston Bruins with a 5-0 victory.

For the sake of Montreal businesses, who should hockey fans be cheering for in this next round of playoffs involving the legendary Montreal Canadiens?

Rick Zemanek is an Advocate editor.