Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Somewhere They Belong

You decided instead of buying groceries, you’ll go and use that money to dye your hair or get your nails done. You can’t pay your rent this month because your smartphone needed an upgrade. You’re in mounds of debt, but you really need that 50 inch screen TV, right?

Sound familiar? I bet it does.

I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but I will not give a penny to someone who claims poverty, yet actually lives better than most others.

I retract my statement. Actually, I will “no longer” give, since I have fallen for the down-on-my-luck stories before and felt like an idiot. I’m very skeptical about giving money to people who sit on street corners with signs because I am concerned that my hard-earned cash will feed their addictions, whatever those may be.  Note that I realize there are individual circumstances and that does need to be taken into consideration too.

Maybe they are genuinely in need, but how do you know? I remember that when I have offered food or to just pay for a meal for the person, instead of actually handing them money, they refuse. I don’t know if its pride, perhaps even mental health issues, but nevertheless, I am human, and even taking into many other factor, it still does make me wary.

As much as I try to be rational on this subject though, the purpose of this blog is to just share a terribly sad story that we encountered recently and why Bill and I are so passionate about helping out a particular organization called the The Windsor Youth Centre (WYC).

It was a very hot and humid Sunday afternoon and we were packing up the car and getting ready for a busy time down at Summer Fest. I thought that instead of spending money buying drinks, I would attempt to make Bill an iced coffee at home since he definitely needed a bit of caffeine fix.

Approaching the parking lot, Bill found a good spot to park and we were ready to unload the car. As I was taking off my seat belt though, I looked over at the garbage bins and noticed one person was rummaging around. I didn’t think anything of it at first because there are many “dumpster divers” around the city, but in a single moment, that’s when everything changed.

the dumpsters the youth were eating from :(

I saw this frail young guy start picking up scraps of food and eating them. I said “OH MY GOD, BILL, LOOK!!” and I think we immediately both realized what was happening.  My mind was racing because I knew what the right thing to do was, but I was worried that it would be another failed attempt. Then it got worse.

He signaled his girlfriend and she came up and started to eat from the bin. She looked even worse. Quick thinking, we rummaged about $6.00 of change and thank goodness for that iced coffee. I ran out and approached the couple saying that I hope they are not offended but my boyfriend and I could not bear to see them eat out these garbage bins, so here is all the money we have right now and please take this iced coffee.

They both looked at me with this stunned look. There was a moment of silence as the young ones said, “Thank you so much for this. God bless you.”

Any chance that they were not who they appeared to be was far from my mind. I just felt the need to do something positive.

There is a life better than this and resources to help.

After arriving back at the car, I broke down and cried. It was such an emotional experience. Yes, I’ve seen kids on the street begging for money and even coming up to me for bus fare, but I have never watched so up close, two people eat straight out of garbage bags.

So what’s WYC and how can Windsorites help?

The Windsor Youth Centre is an organization here in Windsor whose mission is, “To serve the basic and immediate needs of homeless and at-risk youth in a safe and friendly atmosphere with the aim to foster positive change and growth.”

Take a moment and please visit their website. WYC is located at 1321 Wyandotte St East.
You can also get updates on their Facebook page.

We try and donate whenever we can and encourage everyone to go through their “current needs/regular needs” lists and see what you can offer.

Sometimes the right choice is easier than you think.

UPDATE:

After reading my article, I received a note from Robert Stephens from Toronto. He has generously offered a $50.00 donation to go towards the Windsor Youth Centre.

Thank you Robert!