I was walking by the Salvation Army Hostel on Monday and saw a young woman looking at a map printed out from a computer. “Can you help me?” she asked. “I’m not a city girl. I feel like a lost tourist.”
She wanted to find the Salvation Army Thrift Shop in St. Boniface. I told her she could walk with me and once we got to my street I’d show her the direction to go. I told her I volunteered at a Mennonite Thrift Shop.
“I’m a Mennonite,” she said. She told me her name. Her first name was Biblical and her surname definitely Mennonite. “Where are you from?” I asked. She named my hometown and as we talked she told me about the schools there she had attended. I had attended all three myself and taught at one of them. When I asked about her parents she described her father with an expletive and said she never wanted to see him again. Her Mom had left her Dad and moved to a distant Manitoba town.
I asked her what she was going to buy at the Thrift Shop. “Clothes,” she said. “I just got out of prison and all I have are the clothes on my back.” I asked how she’d landed up in jail. “I assaulted someone,” she told me and then quickly added, “you don’t have to worry, I am not a violent person. I was attacked and just defended myself.”
We kept talking till we reached my street. I found out she’d been kicked out of high school, had no one in the city she knew, and had no money. There was a limited amount of time she could stay at the Salvation Army. “I’ll have to find a way to make Winnipeg my home,” she said.
When we reached my street I pointed her in the direction of St. Boniface, gave her some money to buy clothes, wished her well and waved good-bye. I can’t stop thinking about her. I know there is probably lots more to her story than she told me. But………what will happen to her? What chance does she have?
My Husband and the Pope Are On The Same Page
Called to Court
Filed under People, Winnipeg
What about the homeless? How can we help? That was one of the questions raised by a member of our Residents of the Exchange group when we met with Mayor Bowman a number of weeks ago.
Mayor Brian Bowman met with members of the Resident’s Association of the Exchange District at the Gurevich Art Gallery
Mayor Bowman acknowledges homelessness is a problem and says there are unfortunately people in our city who have fallen through the cracks of the social services provided. He has committed $150,000 to a United Way plan to end homelessness in Winnipeg. I have to admit this seems to me a paltry sum to address such a major issue especially when I read that in order to end homelessness the city of Medicine Hat provides housing for all homeless people at a cost of $20,000 per person a year. However Mayor Bowman is hopeful that provincial and federal governments will also provide financial assistance.
I found this April 2015 report from the Community Task Force to End Homelessness the group set up to deal with the United Way initiative but a year later their group is still very much in the organizational stage setting up a web of committees, boards and working groups and appointing directors for them.
I attended a fundraiser recently for a homeless shelter in Steinbach and it was clear considerable money from private citizens and the business community was being used to provide alternatives for the homeless. I wonder if this is happening in Winnipeg as well.
This is an issue I know I need to learn more about. I walk down Main Street and down Selkirk Avenue many times a month to visit schools and volunteer in a Thrift Store and always encounter people who are homeless and are asking for money. This also happens almost every time I walk down Portage Avenue on my way to work. I am never quite sure what to do. I give out change if I have some. I should stop and talk as well, but I am often in a hurry. My husband Dave always takes time to chat with homeless people. I need to learn from him.
Mayor Bowman and the Importance of the Arts
Rockin for a Reason