A writer hoping to be published who writes stories, poems and thoughts of my years as a homeless child and the years since then. Many of my stories are true, however I do enjoy some fun in a quick tale! I also love to take photos.
As we sort through donations at Street Help Homeless Centre of Windsor, we occasionally marvel over some items. One of the donations boxes contained a glass jar with some type of strange dried fruit.
On closer examination two of our volunteer cooks, Caron and Jolene determined the fruit was petrified oranges! The fruit clearly resembles orange sections.
Someone had treasured these oddities enough to place them in a glass jar to further preserve them, and I’m glad they did! Today was all the more enjoyable for all of us.
I would be remiss to not showcase this sweet mid-century stool that also came in as a donation. It provided a fantastic background for the photos of the petrified fruit. It holds a place in my office subbing as an extra chair or small table space.
I do not suffer from execration, well not much! Here in town, there is a fellow; I shall not call a man for he does not fit the image the word ‘man’ brings to mind! I shall return his unwanted memory to the livery stable I imagined for him, as I am off to enjoy the rejuvenation of the shower!
I will lather, exfoliate and condition myself wholly until achieving the goal of hair and skin as mellow as a new-born babe! My wardrobe will provide freshly laundered outerwear, dress, leggings and personal intimates that will bundle me from this white, white winter day! I’ll walk to work watching intently for the mysterious creatures, protected by their down and feathers!
Excited children filled our school auditorium seats.
Teachers and parents stood along the walls, a buzzing sound of whispering voices reminded me of bees.
I didn’t know if the parents were fidgeting more than the children.
Would our village be saved? Today we’d find out.
Mr. Barnaby, the man with big whiskers, sat in the centre chair on the stage and watched closely as Miss Thomas and Mister Winters counted dollar bills and coins on a large crafting table.
Mr. Barnaby, hearing of the devastation of our village’s economy, had come to our school with an offer.
If the children of our school could raise $1,000, Mr. Barnaby would not only match the donation, but he would donate the rest of the money to build a new factory!
Working parents would mean poverty and hopelessness would be things of the past.
“Well,” I thought, “Fat chance that will happen.” I’d fought with mother before leaving for school. How could mom be so selfish not to give me her bus fare money? She could walk to work, I’d told her.
Mom had said, “It is too far for me to walk. All I have is this nickel to donate.”
I sat with the coin held tightly in my fist. There was no way I would drop it into the collection box. The kids bullied me already, how horrible would it be to hear their giggles of scorn.
A hush filled the room as Miss Thomas stood and walked toward the microphone.
“Ahem,” she cleared her throat, and in a sad voice said, “I am sorry to announce we have not met our goal. The total count is Nine Hundred and Ninety-Nine Dollars and Ninety-Five Cents.
“No, no, no!” I hollered as I raced toward the stage. “I didn’t put in my donation.”
Proudly I handed Miss Thomas the hot and sweaty five-cent coin.
Mr. Barnaby stood and walked over to my teacher and me.
“Young man,” He said, “Your gift has tipped the scales. How great a gift it is!”
In awe, I held tight to Mr. Barnaby’s hand as everyone cheered.
The rest of the day was the best day I’d ever had. Every face that looked at me wore a big smile.
I made lots of new friends, but I was anxious for the school bell to ring.
I could hardly wait to go home to tell mom how her nickel had saved the village.
PREVENTING UNNECESSARY DEATHS FROM FREEZING
Windsor, Ontario, Canada has no hope the mayor and city council will allow practical measures to be put in place to prevent the homeless from freezing to death this coming winter. Despite the wealth of information proving these measures are working all over North America, it looks like these solutions are not going to happen.
Hamilton, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan, USA have started putting Tiny Houses into place, but our mayor and city councillors don’t feel this is a necessity for the homeless of our community. These civic leaders feel the drug addicts, and people with mental health issues should “just behave” and then the shelters they fund with taxpayer monies will once again “house” the homeless.
Really? Do they expect these hurting people to be able to cure themselves of their afflictions? Worse, do they really consider homeless shelters to be homes? The local homeless shelters used to call their programs “emergency shelter.”
My husband and I presented our ideas to the mayor. They are practical and logical, and best of all they would save the taxpayers of Windsor millions of dollars!
THREE SIMPLE SOLUTIONS
1) Allow a temporary Tent City on a spot of industrial land that is surrounded by warehouses. This spot exists on McDougal Avenue, in the heart of downtown. The bulk of services available to the homeless are already nearby. This space can be patrolled by the Windsor Police, who have already been hired. The hired social workers would have a location to meet their clients.
2) Open an abandoned school and turn the utilities on. That won’t cost the taxpayers too much. This would be a cost-effective way of saving lives! The police and social workers would have a safe environment to patrol and serve their clients.
3) Tiny Homes can be built, delivered and assembled for under $2,000. The charities and philanthropists could insulate these homes. The homes could be placed on lands already owned by the city. There would be a need for simple rezoning.
SAVING TAXPAYER DOLLARS
Now to the part you are probably curious about. How can these ideas save the taxpayers of Windsor, Ontario millions? Every single person approved for welfare is entitled to $300 per month to pay toward a room or apartment. In one year that equals $3,600. Replace the rent with a Tiny Home. Taxpayers would save $1,600 during the first year, and $3,600 per year into perpetuity!
You would think educated persons would seize upon a plan that would see immediate results and save so much money.
Let us keep in mind every drug addict and person suffering from mental health issues are somebody’s child, parent, partner or relation.
You can search on line for the multiple examples by typing in your search bar, Tiny Homes for the homeless.
At, what seems to be my usual these days, I wake at 3:30 am. I don’t look at the clock, thinking I had somehow slept until morning. The thing is, the sky just doesn’t look as dark as it usually does, “Why?” I wonder.
I start to rinse the electric coffee pot and realize it is still quite full of yesterday’s coffee. A little startled the coffee pot shakes in my hand drenching the white t-shirt I’d just donned. “Crap!” I exclaim as I pull my top off to scrub it with tap water and dish soap. The stain remains, so I spray it with laundry pre-soak. It is the middle of the night, and I don’t want to wake the downstairs neighbours, so I leave the top to rest in the machine.
I pour a mug and add three lumps of brown sugar and cream. There is something so inviting about the smell and taste of the golden hot drink. I think of the commercials I used to hear when I was young. Coffee was touted as one of the world’s many wonders, and at this moment I tend to agree.
Sitting down at my laptop I read the news, and yet another story is being told about a candidate running in this year’s municipal election. Of course, that brings me back to biased and, in my opinion, cruel negative stories told by our local media.
It seems any more sensationalism is all that counts. What caused our civic leaders to deviate from telling it like it is, using old-fashioned integrity and sensibilities? I suppose the tried and true Canadian style has just gotten too boring for them.
I’ll make my point with three stories told to the media so far this year, all stories casting horrible aspersions on my homeless centre. With the upcoming municipal election at least three of the incumbent politicians needed to grasp onto something, anything to keep their names out there. It is no secret most people vote on name recognition.
Attack a small homeless charity and paint them as villains, now that might get you elected! The unpopularity of homelessness is a comfortable skirt to latch onto and hide behind. Get the public in an uproar, excite the haters into frothy-mouthed campaigners for you.
In the story published by CBC on January 7, 2018, (link above) Rino Bortolin is theatrically melodramatic. He makes claims of rules, yet did not explain what they were. He also spoke of his worries “if a fire had started.”
There was no risk of fire! The Fire Department responded to an anonymous caller who claimed Street Help did not have a working fire alarm system. Concerned, they did what they are mandated to do, they responded to satisfy themselves all was okay.
The only immediate request by the Fire Department, after their very comprehensive inspection, was that we install push bars on the entry/exit doors of The Stone Soup Kitchen, which we had recently taken over! All of our other doors in the centre had push bars!
Bortolin, who has never stepped foot in our centre, used our small agency to get and keep his name in the news. He continues to bash our agency with his falsehoods. In another of his addresses to the media he claims Street Help is not a licensed shelter, yet there is no such law as a licensed shelter. Not any shelter in Windsor, or Ontario are required to be licensed, no such law exists.
Bortolin has run on City Councils decision to hire more police and social workers. This is not his brilliance, nor is this a solution. Without offering a place for the homeless to go, what are these social workers to do?
Rino Bortolin’s platform is grandstanding on the homeless, without offering any real solutions. He has nothing otherwise, and he has sat as one of the “opposition” on city council thus far. Behaving as a schoolyard bully does not make him a reasonable choice for election.
In the article published by the Windsor Star on August 25, 2018 (link above) Chris Holt accused Street Help of allowing drug use.
Holt clearly stated Street Help has “certain latitudes” that are not permitted by downtown homeless services, and goes on to claim homeless service providers downtown have stricter rules about drug consumption.
Holt later denied he accused us of allowing drug consumption; however, he has not asked the media for retractions! Holt is another who has never stepped foot in our centre. His remarks are words of malice and fabrications.
Chris Holt is another who has sat proudly on city council posing as the other “opposition.” He desires to sweep the homeless issue under the rug. He has no plans to address the issue. Is this a good reason to elect him?
Blackburn News posted on September 13, 2018, a story where Dilkens denigrates the homeless and lumps them into a category of people who just don’t want to follow the rules.
Unlike his companions Chris Holt and Rino Bortolin, Dilkens has actually stepped foot into Street Help. He failed to find anything out of order. He certainly didn’t see any drug use. Instead, Dilkens witnessed a group of orderly people in fellowship, dining and enjoying the comforts we give.
I asked Dilkens about the date of a meeting to come up with solutions to house the homeless. One of his higher-ups in the Windsor Police had told me this meeting was to take place. Dilkens response was “I’ve never heard anything about a meeting! But I think this meeting should take place.”
A week later Dilkens called to ask if I could attend the meeting he arranged for at 9 am the next morning. I was overjoyed, believing he actually cared about helping the homeless. Little did I know Dilkens was using me, Street Help and the Homeless for his own political gain.
At the meeting, many ideas were bantered about. Some examples of the discussions were about a new temporary shelter for this winter, a tent city, a campground, using abandoned schools, asking local churches to offer accommodation, and that a lot of investment needs to be made into the mental health and addiction services,
Professionals in the field advised Dilkens mental health services are utterly inadequate and underfunded. They told him they are unable to provide services to many of the homeless with mental health issues.
Professionals in the field of addictions told Dilkens much the same. There is no help for the homeless who are desperately trying to get help to get off drugs. People are left without the resources urgently needed, and many are dying due to lack of treatment programs.
Most in the field of sheltering the homeless told Dilkens they don’t have mental health or addictions professionals. They are overwhelmed and cannot keep the homeless with these issues in their shelters.
Drew Dilkens, with his flair for the hyperbole, press-released his election platform against the homeless. Completely ignoring the advice given him by mental health and addictions professionals and shelter providers. He insisted there will be no accommodation, of any kind to house the homeless with mental health and addiction issues.
Dilkens solution is to open a big day program where the homeless can attend to meet social workers, and further he attempted to denigrate Street Help by saying his program would have “professionals” unlike ours. His plan is very childish and demonstrates his schoolyard-bully-behaviour.
How many of us have a family member or friend who suffers from mental health issues or addictions? To cast aspersions, the homeless are all rule breakers or criminals is a heartless debasement.
Isn’t it a tad bit odd all three of these men have chosen to surf a wave to criminalize homelessness? How very alike they are, and it is a wonderment Dilkens would entwine his platform with his “opposition.” It is my opinion, Chris Holt, Rino Bortolin and Drew Dilkens are not respectable men.