Monday, December 29, 2008

My Excellent Christmas with the Homeless

Every year at this time Sébastien and I put together two haversacks full of goodies and deliver them personally to some of the many homeless people freezing on the streets of our city.

To make up for the Christmas presents they didn't get, to spread a little cheer, and above all to show that we care.

Because homelessness isn't just hard and cruel, and a country's shame. In Canada, in winter, it can be fatal.

And because I agree with this guy.

We've lost something in this country, I think. It happened in the past few years and it is particularly obvious in my neck of the woods. It's a loss of shame about the plight of others, fellow Canadians. Around the time that our armed forces became "warriors," not peacekeepers, something was unleashed. A sizable amount of vanity, greed and harshness of spirit.

I also feel that we're losing our precious Canadian values. That our hearts have grown so hard that we can't even see the misery around us.

That's why it's so good to read stories like this one.

And to know that there are other Canadians like Daniel who are trying to stop our country from becoming a jungle. By treating some of our most miserable and vulnerable fellow citizens like human beings instead of animals.

As for Sébastien and I ....we had a hoot. Because in addition to the shortbreads and chocolates, I also made up a giant batch of coffee....with BAILEYS. Now I'm not much of a drinker. And the smell of Baileys makes me nauseous. And Sébastien said I put too much in. But boy was it POPULAR !!

We got to hear some sad and funny stories from guys with names like Rufus, Chipper, and Bear. Sébastien was able to slip in some medical questions, and escort one guy to a nearby hospital to be treated for a horrible ulcer on his leg.

And I hope that for a moment at least some of these poor Canadians didn't just enjoy my special Christmas Blend....but also felt a little less lonely.

Of course none of this changes anything. Little acts of kindness aren't enough. Homelessness remains a cruel and shameful problem. We need more affordable housing, and better treatment facilities. We need to make that a priority EVERY day of the year.

But I guess what I'm trying to say is that if we're ever going to solve this horrible problem, first you've got to see the problem....and the humanity. First you've got to feel the pain.

First you gotta care....


Chrystal Ocean said...

Am betting that special coffee blend was well appreciated. Good on you!

One recommendation: next time, replace the shortbreads and chocolate cookies with fresh or dried fruit and raw veggies. Homeless people, when they get free food at all - e.g., at food banks, soup kitchens, shelters -, are predominantly fed the less healthy kind, because 90% of what's donated comes in the form of breads, muffins, donuts, cookies; i.e., sweet, refined, carbohydrate foods loaded with empty calories. Such foods are cheap, go further (feed more hungry mouths) and temporarily satisfy. But they don't nourish.

People who are desperately poor literally crave the good stuff. I know, both from personal experience and from my work with others who live in abject poverty. So do their malnourished bodies.

Anonymous said...

you did well Simon. merci!

Jaliya said...

Thank you, Simon and Sébastien, for what you have chosen to do ... Every act of kindness makes a difference. I've not lived on the street myself, but I came close about seven years ago, when all options seemed to disappear for several months ... It was a terrifying time, and was one experience of many that made me realize that we're all in this life together ... and that such losses could happen to any of us at any time. I am so grateful for my home ...

Bailey's is also delicious in a chai latte for any tea drinkers out there! ;-)

Nicole said...

Simon, I think you are an absolute sweetheart , ALONG with an inspiration!

Here's to a Happy 2009 Simon to you and yours, and I am happy to have stubbled upon your place in 2008, as i feel we are kind of kindred spirits of sorts!

Peace and Love in the New Year!


Simon said...

Hi Chrystal...and thanks for your advice. I do prepare food for some homeless people in the neighbourhood during the year that is a little bit healthier like BLT sandwiches. At least the lettuce and the tomato are good right?
But this time I just wanted them to have the best...the best coffee the best shortbreads (my moms)and Dutch chocolate biscuits. Next year I'll try to come up with a healthier mix...and make up for it with TWICE as much of my Special Christmas blend... :)

Simon said...

Hi Ir...thank you...but as I said I enjoyed myself too. If I can just get some homeless people to speak and smile or laugh that's reward enough for me... :)

Simon said...

Hi Jaliya...thank you...and I also believe that every act of kindness does make a difference.
I also think it's important to remind people, as you point out, that homelessness can happen to ANYBODY.
A sudden tragedy, a job lost, a mental illness can leave people in the street.... overnight.
So even if people can't think of others they should think of themselves eh? :)

Simon said...

Hi Nic....OK now you are making me blush. But thank you anyway...I'm sending the inspiration part to my old teachers...along with a rude note :)
And thanks for being so might not learn anything here...but at least we'll have FUN !!!
All the best to you and yours and may 2009 be your happiest year ever !!!!