Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Prodigal City

The weather outside is wild, a very solid wooden chair has just gone scooting along the balcony. Kevin has taken the hanging baskets down and Whisky is going to have to cross his little puppy legs.

And the wind has blown in my youngest lad, Ben. Yep, I noticed the ridiculously low price of flights on Monday, Wednesday, he's here. He had asked me not to tell Laurence, so Ben had the pleasure of waking his brother up.
'Am I awake?' asked Laurence, 'am I dead?'

The prodigal son, Ben that is. Laurence works hard, he gets up at three every morning and goes to bake bread. He doesn't slack off and he's only sick when he's actually sick.
Alex works hard, granted she plays hard too, but she's no slacker. And neither can understand how the prodigal one breezes in, knows how loved he is and we kill the fatted calf. And I can see all of that and I can't not kill that calf.

I felt like that at the meeting I went to last night. I've mentioned before that my church runs the extreme weather shelter in Richmond. There are a handful of beds for men at the Salvation Army, but nowhere for women and children, or the rest of the men.
We applied this year to extend the provision, so that we would be open throughout the winter months. We couldn't do this without Provincial funding, which was turned down.
Last year's shelter was run by a teacher-consultant who works full time. She would pull night shifts, go into work, and organise all the volunteers during her breaks. The whole thing was run on the kindness of others, volunteers who gave up their nights to supervise, donations of money, clothes, food from people who care that there are people who have to sleep on the streets, and some funding from the Province.
The City of Richmond do nothing. They don't acknowledge a problem. Councillors have claimed there are no homeless in the city - more difficult after a particularly bitter winter last year, and the church sheltering those people.

The church's committee have been preparing all year for this winter. After muddling through last year, they have lined up paid staff will be more able to do the job since they won't be having to do a separate paying job, and who are to be trained in how to deal with the drug and alcohol issues and behaviours the homeless frequently exhibit.
The city promised them money.
They produced a budget and submitted it.

The city rejected it because 'they thought the shelter would run on the same budget as last year,'
'We had no budget last year,' said the committee, 'we ran on goodwill and donations because you won't give the meanest shelter to your citizens, this year we thought you were going to step up to the plate.'

Even last year, there was a strong voice within the congregation who said, 'if we do this, then the city won't.' Turns out they were right.
The committee cannot do this again, they cannot.
But I know they will. They have said they won't, but they will. They won't let those men and women and children have nowhere to go when the wind is blowing hard enough to push a hardwood chair along and the rain is horizontal.

But the city will.


Sleepy said...

Some arses need kicking..

Schneewittchen said...

Some very fat ones too.

Sleepy said...

Sell 'em and keep the money!