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Help for hidden and not so hidden homelessness in Richmond

Lorraine Graves   Oct-12-2017

Tarek MRAD via Flickr


No one chooses to be homeless. We who have a warm place to lay our heads have a myriad of ways, both big and small, we can help those who don’t have a home.

There is something you can do today and something you can do on Thursday, October 19 at St. Alban Anglican Church at 7260 St. Alban's Road.

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Today, you can make a financial donation and gather up any or all of the following items then deliver them to the Richmond Hospital Thrift Shop in the old church in Steveston. Be sure to tell those at the shop that these donations are for the Homeless Connect Day at St. Alban’s so they set them aside.

-heavy coats and sweaters of all sizes

-warm socks

-warm boots and toques

-long underwear, sweat pants, jogging pants

-warm blankets

-waterproof coats, hats, shoes, pants, clothing

-handheld hair dryers so people can warm up when thoroughly chilled

George Pope, moderator of Richmond Freecycle, the online user group to give and get free stuff, says, “Please take any of these you can gather up from your home, neighbours, family, and drop them off at the Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Shop, on Chatham at Second Ave. Be sure to tell the staff that it's for the Homeless Connect Day.”

The second way you can help is by volunteering just before the event or at the event. organizers say, “For the Homeless Connect Day, At. Alban becomes a one stop shop of services, starting at 9:00 with a pancake breakfast followed with access to direct services such as such as haircuts, clothing, meals and healthcare as well as information and referral to services that can be accessed year round.”

We see people, scruffy and asking for loose change. They are scruffy, not by choice, but by lack of laundry, showering facilities and spare clothes costs many their dignity. How big a selection can you have when you always have to carry everything with you?

Homelessness comes about through many routes: illness, both physical and mental; marriage breakdown; underemployment; low income; or a host of other reasons that could descend on many given the wrong confluence of circumstances.

And Richmond is home to many hidden homeless; the young people who couch surf, always staying with other friends or their parents for a few days, weeks or month; people who spend their weeks housesitting for vacationers; and the older women who choose to be live-in caregivers, long after their bodies should be doing wheelchair transfers or lifting others, because it gives them a warm place to live.

Many living in poverty in Richmond are working poor. Last year in BC, approximately 93,800 workers earned only minimum wage. At this year’s minimum wage of $11.35, that grosses a full time work $1900 per month before all deductions. After deductions, workers are left with less than the cost of a basement suite, let alone money for food and work transportation.

Homeless shelters are a stop-gap solution. While stats are not available for Richmond, in one survey, 2/3 of the people living in homeless shelters in Calgary were employed full time.

The Ninth Annual Homeless Connect event organizers say, “The support of Richmond residents is needed both financially and through volunteering. The funds donated will go to purchase supplies for the Richmond Connect event. The planning committee is also asking Richmond residents to give a little extra this year so that donations can be forwarded on to the year round services that do not have regular funding – outreach services, life skills counselling, community education, the extreme weather shelter. And the outreach meal program. This financial support can make all the difference during the year for people who need help to get off the street and change their lives.

Further, the organizers say, “St. Alban Anglican Church and the Richmond Salvation Army on Gilbert have become hubs of services for people who are experiencing homelessness and poverty. Outreach workers connect regularly with the over 100 homeless or precariously housed individuals that they meet out on their rounds in the streets, providing necessities of life, and personal connection to help make sustainable changes. People can drop into the Resource Centre housed at Salvation Army and enjoy a lunch on Thursdays and referrals to needed services and programs. St. Alban's has weekly programs including community meals and a shower program. None of these services have regular funding and rely on both in-kind donations and financial support.”

If you can help:

-Drop off gently used items at the Richmond Auxiliary Thrift Shop telling them the donations are for the Homeless Connect Day on Oct. 19.

-Please send monetary donations c/o Richmond Food Bank Society, #100-5800 Cedarbridge Way, Richmond, V6X 2A7. Make cheque payable to Homeless Connect.

-Volunteers are needed to help with this event. If you are interested in helping please send an email to Harry at asxer545@telus.net.

-For more information contact richmondcommunityconnects@gmail.com


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