A wise man once said there is a big difference between pity and compassion. Pity feels sorry for something. Compassion does something about it.
This was, and continues to be the biggest motivation behind Erin Schulte and the Pop Up Soup Kitchen initiative she and her friends started to feed the homeless and poverty stricken in Whalley. She and her crew are compassion embodied.
Without judgement and without condemnation, everyone is fed,clothed if there are donations to do so, and offered blankets cut by volunteers from donations received by a textiles company in Richmond. They have been the subject of attention by the city of Surreys bylaws officers,and Fraser Health. As hard as it is to imagine, it is not permissible to cook good,nutritious food to serve to the homeless in your own kitchen. Talk about over regulation – these rules need to change in light of the overwhelming number of Canadians looking to food banks and finding their way into poverty,homelessness and lack of housing.
During the last couple of food services I’ve joined the Pop-up Soup Kitchen ladies,I’ve spent a lot of time talking to the homeless and their stories are both compelling and heart-wrenching. Yes, there are many stories of addiction, but there are just as many stories of accidents and injuries that left people disabled or unable to work.
This is Al. His story is one of many, and he considers himself a lucky person because after a long struggle of battling a necrotic infection in his leg as a result of an injury from a dumpster, he said he will finally have some housing lined up for end of November. A gentle soul, he is loved by the volunteers and looks forward to every other Sunday when they arrive because it isn’t just about the food, it’s about the company, the caring, the hug and conversations. He loves them too.
For the second year in a row, the city of Surrey has been unable to make a decision for the location of a winter shelter. The homeless are everywhere in Whalley, mainly around the area of 135A street.It’s been an issue that has received considerable attention in the media and from personally talking to the people coming to the soup kitchen, it’s an issue that needs to be resolved immediately.
Along with others,we’ve been pushing the city to re-visit this situation as soon as possible and work to find a solution to housing these people during our wet and cold winter weather. It’s tragic that the business community who complains about homeless seeking shelter in overhangs and stairwells, don’t see that a winter shelter will,without fail, help to eliminate many of these issues. Where are they supposed to go?
In the interim, it’s clear that people are going to be suffering on the streets and if we can’t find them housing we can the best we can to keep them dry,which will help keep them healthy.
This is Small Paul, who is toughing it out in the puddles. Stephen Gammer, a Whalley resident and council candidate,let me use his photos from his daily runs in the area.
At the soup kitchen held last Sunday, every single fleece blanket was graciously taken and people were asking if there were more when they quickly ran out. It’s not a long term solution, but providing warmth is a short term survival necessity.
With the help of long time Whalley resident and council candidate Martin Rooney, who has volunteered with social service agencies including the Surrey Urban Misson, I’m starting a donation drive to hopefully get enough blankets for the approximately 150 people coming to the the Pop Up Soup Kitchen every other Sunday, and if there are more that come in, they can be distributed through local agencies as well.
Because those sleeping on the street most often have to carry their belongings with them, blankets that can be easily folder smaller or rolled are best, fleece is great because it seems to shed the water easier and can be shaken out well to dry fast. Or, donations of bolts of fleece would be great too, because they can easily be cut to size!!
The ultimate combination would be a pairing of an outer survival blanket to reflect heat and provide a water-proof barrier ( the kind taken along for emergencies when hiking/camping),with a fleece liner for additional warmth. Big duvets and comforters soak up a lot of water,and aren’t easily carried around.
Also desperately needed are clean dry socks in mens and womens sizes- dry socks are a luxury and one man actually showed me the condition of his feet as a result of being in wet socks and shoes consistently. The Soup kitchen is also collecting clean and gently used winter coats,rain gear and gloves/touques, also desperately needed in weather conditions like we’ve experienced overnight, and those can be dropped off at Jolly Mac’s pub attn Faith.
So there you have it, let’s take ownership of this issue and make a difference. If you have a donation of a blankets or can assist in any way, please contact me via the contact page. We’ll arrange to get the donation and distribute via The next Pop up Soup Kitchen. Thank you for the consideration. 🙂