Thursday, March 18, 2010

Poverty Solutions 2010

Poverty Solutions 2010
On March 16th the Abbotsford Green Party of Canada and the Students for Sustainability put on a forum for positive ideas to make steps to eradicate poverty
We had a panel of people from non profit groups in our community. Womens Resource Society of the Fraser Valley Pam Willis, Community Services Sarbjit Gill, Salvation Army Debra Lowell, Atengard Community Project Dan Bryce.
The Women's Resource Society helps with housing and support for women and children through Transition Housing, Women's counseling, Outreach, Babies best chance, Pregnancy outreach, Education, Community Development, Housing, The Warm Zone and Fronya Thrift Boutique Store. One of their projects called the “Warm Zone” is a drop-in center for women in the streets. The Society went to women in the streets and asked them “How does good help look to you?” The Worm Zone has approximately 108 different women dropping in on a monthly bases, and 24 to 45 daily. The center provides a place to get warm, and clean up in a women only environment. They can wash their cloths and talk to Volunteers that will listen without judgment, and advise them or take them were they can get the help they may need. A hot evening meal is prepared twice a week and women have use of the kitchen where snacks can be made. The project is funded by the Federal Government through the status of Women Canada as well as the Province of British Columbia through the gaming Branch.
Community Services has been around since 1969. They have many programs, Welfare, Food Bank, Settlement Programs, Legal Advocates. ESL. Sarbjit works as a legal advocate. They had a case that effected 80 farm workers EI claims. EI studied a few of the people and found they had not worked the hours that they said and they would have to pay back EI with penalties that would be twice what they had been paid. EI took this further and decided all the workers were fraudulent with out checking into each case. 65 of the workers made successful appeals. It cost the government 2 million to collect 400 thousand.
The Salvation Army has many projects. Center of hope, Emergency Shelter, Outreach assistance, advocacy, 14 living suites on site, addiction counseling, thrift store, job training, buggy barn, and the Cascade Culinary Arts School. The Cascade has been a big success in training people with good skills and providing funding subsides. The classes are full. The Salvation Army has been successful at getting people in emergency shelters by providing the “buggy barn” so people can see that their possessions are locked in a secure place.
Atengard Community project is on Essendene Ave, in the heart of the old downtown. The group has renovated the top floor of the Fraser Valley Inn, using the original name “Atengard”. They have 19 units of affordable housing for young people. They have a common kitchen where meals are shared and everyone gets the chance to be a chief. Designing housing as a working community provides a sharing of resources, reduces social isolation and gives people a better sense of acceptance.
These four people represent a small portion of the people in our community that are doing, they are listeners, visionaries, unconditional givers, they see the real world and are following a path that helps the needs of the poor, the homeless, the orphans, the mentally ill, the immigrant's, people on the edge. We can't all be visionaries or run organizations but we can support what they do and trust that they know what they are doing. You can help your neighbors, and support local business, artist, food growers.
So many wonderful ideas were talked about and shared I have a few quotes that I may have embellished.
Pam Willis. “We should be mad, there are no Federal housing programs.”
Debra Lowell. “Everybody is worthy of love.”
Sarbjit Gill. “People say “they” can go to this and that social service for assistance, not thinking “they” are not different from “You”.
Dan Bryce. “Social Isolation creates instability.”
Gandhi. “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”
The last homeless count was 200, but 4000 people use the services provided. Those numbers will be going up unless we all do something about it.
Do not accept homelessness!
Do not accept band aid solutions that are given out disguised as the only help possible.
Call your MP and tell him we need housing!
Get to know your neighbors.
Get involved
Be careful about what you think you see, your interpretation may not be accurate.
If you know someone who is in potential need help them before they are in need.
We all have the potential of being in the position of needing help. Most of us in our daily lives don't need to ask for help but when the time comes that we do need to ask, can we? And if you see someone in need can you help them or give them permission to ask for help? A person can have a home and still be homeless if they are isolated from society.
I would like to see a guaranteed livable income
More housing that is designed for social wellness
Neighborhood vegetable gardens
Get back to better health care
A proportional voting system
To name a few.
Thank you to Pam Willis, Debra Lowell, Sarbjit Gill, and Dan Bryce for speaking and all the good works they do.
Thank you to all that care and were able to participate.
Thank you to the Green team Dan Bryce, Karen Durant, Steve Fultz, Regina Dalton Bill Walsh and I must include Alanna Dean and George Duffy who helped in the beginning but have moved to a new adventure.
Thank you to the Students for Sustainability Michelle Sylvest, Melissa Kendzierski.
Peace and love, just do