3 kids all under 18 years old walked an hour to get to the WYC one evening. They ate dinner with us and we packed them up food to go. They said they were staying with friends but that their friends didn’t have very much. “Do you have some bowls and spoons we could take with us, too,” they had asked.
I was confused, if they were staying with friends, couldn’t they use the dishes there? I asked. The answer was, “They don’t have any.” As it turned out, five young people had scraped up enough money to rent a room – just a room. No kitchen.
This is when I learned that a trip to the food bank for canned vegetables and dry pasta might not be useful to everyone. When we see people with a limited income spending money on fast food, it may be that this is their only option for a meal.
So I have learned to ask questions like:
“Do you have a kitchen or place to warm up food?”
“Do you have a fridge?”
“Do you need a spoon or fork?”
“Do you have a place to store some food or do you need to carry everything with you?”
The main lesson is this:
Sometimes food is not enough – what we need is meals. Meals that are nourishing to our bodies, minds and spirits. Where we eat and with whom is as important as what we eat. And a home-cooked meal is not always an option for everyone.
Please consider donating a gift card for Tim Horton’s, McDonald’s, another franchise restaurant or a grocery store this holiday time.
We accept these donations at the WYC Monday to Saturday from 5pm to 10pm.
When did we hand over the meaning of the word ‘enable’? When did being an ‘enabler’ become a negative thing? And why does it always seem to be connected to addiction? WHO DID THIS?
The answer is WE DID. Let’s stop it. Let’s think about what REALLY enables addiction in our world: lack of meaningful work for people of all ages, especially kids; restricted access to healthy food; prevalence of social media and computer games; overexposure to advertising which erodes our self-esteem and warps our values; abuse in the home, at school, and by other people of authority in our community; restricted access to nature and quiet time!
Shelter, food, clothing, support and loving care are human rights. These elements are enabling for sure – they enable health, well-being, and the opportunity to grow. In fact, withholding any or all of these things from anyone is likely to create all sorts of problems, including addiction. It is very difficult to recover from anything from a common cold to a mental health issue to an addiction if we don’t have a HOME.
Want more information? Visit your local Housing First Initiative or check out the Homeless Hub online at http://www.homelesshub.ca/
Did you know that there is no homeless youth shelter in Windsor?
In fact, there’s not a lot of shelter options at all – one shelter for men, one for women, one for women fleeing abuse, and that’s it for available beds. Not enough to accommodate everyone with no place to sleep each night.
A lot of those left out in the cold are youth. Why? It’s intimidating to go to a new place alone. Sometimes youth are trying to avoid an older person or people who are staying at the shelter.
Young people are often homeless because
the adults in their lives are not safe to be around.
So what do I do at 10pm when the WYC closes and someone is being sent out the door literally into the street? Hand out a $5 Tim Horton’s card or McDonald’s card or Subway or whatever!
These cards are the difference between a scared, exhausted young person having nowhere to go or having somewhere to go…if not over night, then at least until they get kicked out of that place, too. This is really happening.
Please ask your city counselor about starting a youth shelter
make a donation of a gift card to the WYC.
We will help get a youth off the street…at least for part of the night!
…I have never had to do this, but think about it, if you don’t have money for food, where does the money come from for laundry or new undies? It doesn’t come. So what do you do? Head to a church or clothing bank or drop-in centre and ask someone there – a stranger – for underwear. It’s hard enough to do this as an adult. Imagine having to do it as a teenager or young man or woman.
The fact is that as a society we are comfortable with the notion of people begging for food or for money. It’s not right. And poverty is an urgent problem. If things are going to change or change more quickly, we have to get UNcomfortable…uncomfortable enough to ACT! So let’s get uncomfortable by talking about boxers, briefs, bikinis…what have you!
Spend some time today thinking about your underwear…what you would do if you couldn’t wash it or replace it?
You can help by making a donation of new underwear and socks to your local drop-in. WYC takes these donations and we are in desperate need right now!
Of course, donations of food and $ are also always welcome.
Today I am thankful for my clean, cotton knickers that I put on after a hot shower this morning!
Thank you Sharon, my beautiful friend, for alerting me to this documentary.
Today marks the fifth year of the Windsor Youth Centre. How have we managed to keep the doors open with no ongoing government funding? Because we need to.
Today, please take a close look at the faces of the people you love and appreciate them. Please take a look at the faces of the people you don’t know yet, and decide you will love them.
If you are like me, when you were growing up, your parents brought food to the table and everyone ate together. This shared meal was shared TIME, shared EXPERIENCE, shared STORIES, LAUGHS, even ARGUMENTS. It was something we participated in together. For better or for worse, the experience of sharing a meal made me feel valued and wanted.
There are young people in Canada who don’t have food. This is unacceptable. There are places where they can access food or ready-made meals and that’s really great because we don’t want kids starving.
But when we offer food without the experience of sharing it, what is the message we are sending?
Do you pack up dinner for your children and grandchildren and send them on their way? Or do you sit down with them and share their meal?
At the WYC our staff, volunteers and donors or other visitors eat dinner with the youth. It is a shared meal. This year at Thanksgiving we were all ooh-ing and ah-ing over the meal together, we were all savoring the home-made whipped cream we had with pie, and afterward, we were all talking about how full we were and how we wanted to take a nap! We were in it together! What did I give thanks for this year? The opportunity to share good food with loving young people.
How do you live in a city where unemployment is through the roof and there’s kids on the street without a roof over their heads? This shameful situation became impossible for me to live with and five years ago a small group of us decided to do something – we started a drop-in centre for those young people. It’s called the WYC (Windsor Youth Centre).
I’m the director of the WYC, and when I tell people that I work with homeless youth, they often say, “Oh, you’re such a good person.”
I’m a good person? If that’s the case, that makes me pretty ordinary. We are all good – it’s our nature. When we act in hurtful ways to others or to ourselves it means that something is being tampered with – our safety, our security, our well being.
Look around, clean drinking water, clean air, nourishing food, public space, meaningful work – these are all being tampered with.
It affects us all in one way or another, but those most vulnerable are children and youth.
How do we keep from tampering with the goodness inside of them?
And how do we help them recover from the harm already done?
This blog will reflect on these questions weekly. I have tons of stories that will make you feel good about the world we live in even as I am demanding that we change it.
In the meantime, I am committed to keeping the doors of the WYC open, and if you’d like to help, you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter, visit our web site or real site, or make a donation.