I hate stereotypes. I saw a cute picture the other day of someone sitting at a computer and the caption read - "StereoTYPE - it's faster!" That's the truth of the matter isn't it? And it's why I hate stereotypes so much. Stereotyping is much faster than actually taking the time to get to know people. I know what it's like to be stereotyped and it's not fun.
The people we work with at ARC have to deal with more stereotypes than I do. One of the common misconceptions about people who end up at The Salvation Army or who are in danger of homelessness is that they are lazy. Just recently a person took this picture in Barrie, Ontario. It is a Tim Horton's cup taped to a street light pole along with a note. The note is from a homeless individual who is asking people to leave money in his cup. He promises to come back at 4 pm to retrieve the money and not use it for crack. The reason he cannot stay and hold the cup himself? He's too tired. The photo is making the rounds on the web and is being used to support the stereotype that homeless people are just lazy.
A few years ago, Bill O'Reilly, a right-wing news commentator in the US, asserted that homeless people will "not support themselves" because they "want to get drunk, or they want to get high ... or they don't want to work [because] they're too lazy." Nice, huh? Forget about the fact that many people who experience homelessness have chronic health issues (both physicial and mental); have suffered severe physical and emotional abuse; and/or experienced a major crisis in their lives that sent them reeling. Forget about that because people who come to The Salvation Army are just plain lazy!
Let me pass on an e-mail that we received recently at ARC. It is from a company in Victoria that rents apartment suites to people visiting our beautiful city. They recently hired one of our residents after a caseworker (Eric) was able to help the man find employment. The names have been changed for privacy reasons.
We wish to express our thanks to you for connecting us with Dave. He is such a nice person and we have truly enjoyed making his acquaintance. He has started doing some garden work for us over the last couple of days, has worked extremely hard and is so diligent in his endeavours. This morning I looked out of my window at the back garden and was amazed at the transformation he has been able to make in it over just a couple of days. We hope we will be able to keep him working for as long as possible, either until our budget will no longer allow it, or until he finds another situation that is better for him. He is a very special individual and we're so pleased with everything he does for us.
Thanks again for introducing him to us Eric, we sure appreciate it.
Hmmm? Reality 1, Stereotypes 0
Do you remember that Alice Cooper song from the 1970's? We used to sing it on our last day of school when I was a kid. Along with the ever popular poetic gem, "No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers"... well, you know how it goes.
Here in Victoria, today is the last day of school until September. I dropped my son off for school this morning on the way to ARC and he could hardly contain his excitement. He didn't even complain about the salmon I packed in his lunch! That's the effect that summer has on people. It is the promise of sunny days after long periods of clouds and rain (or snow for the rest of my friends throughout Canada). It is the promise of rest after ten months of hard work.
And here at ARC, things are winding down a bit. Tomorrow we have seven men finishing up our Addictions Treatment program. We have several youth who have just graduated from the Beacon of Hope House program. And a bunch of us will be going on vacation for a few weeks. Things will be a little quieter here in July and August. But that doesn't mean we get to take the whole two months off like my son. There's a ton left to do. We are going through program revisions over the summer. We are working with architects and property consultants on our building condition assessment in order to renovate and refresh our facility. We have an accreditation review coming up in the autumn that we need to prepare for and put the finishing touches on.
But of all our concerns, one of the most urgent is our Beacon of Hope House facility. Our lease with the current landlord is not being renewed and is set to expire on October 31, 2012. We have been pounding the streets and connecting with all of our friends and partners to find a new place, but nothing has materialized yet. With only four months to go, time is getting short. We can't afford to take two months off. But neither can we make the mistake of settling for a site that will not work for our programs and staff. God grant us patience.
Enjoy the summer everyone.