Witnessing poverty from the sidelines

Spend one night in poor person's shoes and see how you feel

Editor, The News:

Lately, there’s been a call for compassion for the residents and homeowners around the Caring Place.

Compassion for those who have a warm home to sit in while the frigid weather outside goes unacknowledged because the only time you’re exposed to this tumultuous weather is walking to your car to drive and buy groceries to have your guaranteed three square meals per day, plus snacks.

Compassion for those setting up their Christmas trees, watching the simulated fireplace on their wall-mounted flat-screen televisions, sipping on a cup of hot cocoa with a furnace churning out comfortable warm air; hustling to your nearest shopping centres for Christmas gifts for your nearest and dearest family members and splurge a little on trinkets and fashion on yourselves.

Compassion for those of you who ignorantly refer to the poverty-stricken as inorganic non-living automatons and turn your noses up at the destitute.

These are luxuries to the poor, even the housed working poor (housing alone is a luxury), who have to sign up for the Christmas hamper due to the fact they have hungry children who would otherwise go without a Christmas.

And the worst you people have to complain about is witnessing the depth of poverty? Maybe some garbage on your sidewalk? That’s the worst off you’ve been?

The municipal workers clean those places up.

Take a long look at what you have, and compare it to the very little they have.

In fact, I challenge any one of you playing the martyr to take with you nothing but the clothes on your back, a sleeping bag, and no money whatsoever, and spend 24 hours outside. Sleep outside, and go to the Caring Place, if you should be so hungry, or beg for money.

Spend one day and night in their shoes, and tell me how bad you have it when you return to your home, witnessing poverty on the sidelines, and fall asleep in your soft warm beds with your beloved cuddled at your side.

Yes, some things are a minor inconvenience, and no one wants to witness suffering, but minimizing, trivializing, dehumanizing, all of this, will not make poverty history.

This attitude will not eliminate poverty or homelessness.

It will not alleviate their suffering any less so, not that you are too concerned about their suffering to begin with.

So you donated a buck or two to the red kettles.

Good for you. You’ve done your one good deed for the year.

That doesn’t give you a ticket to look down upon the worst-off.

You are one crisis away from homelessness. One injury, one disability, one trauma, one family death, one lay-off away from this type of existence.

Stop taking your heated home, families, three meals per day, flat-screen televisions, cell phones, computers, clothing and warm beds for granted.

Nothing will be done if you don’t witness the extremes of poverty, out of sight, out of mind, right?

Do something in your community to solve the problems instead of putting Band-aids on bullet wounds.

Nerissa Gregory

Maple Ridge


Hire me

Editor, The News:

You want change and actual rehabilitation programs to help these people on our streets, then hire me and cover my wages ($200 and hour).

I need a secretary ($15/hour?). I will then rehabilitate them.

But I also need donations: office space, two rooms (one for my files –intake (confidentiality), individual programming/case intake; second room for teaching life skills, training, meetings, group programming.

I need: paper (lined and blank), pens, printer, computer, two upright file cabinets, legal file folders, two tall book shelves (one with locking doors), ink for printer (or ink refilling vouchers),  small blank white recipe cards, chairs for training room (eight), and about six chairs for the waiting room.

An expert (with 30 years experience) to help deal with the highly complex needs of clients, such as dual diagnosis, as well as a rehabilitation specialist – that’s me, the only one in Canada, and I live here in Maple Ridge.

Lea Smadello

Maple Ridge