I love the city I live in – Guelph, Ontario, Canada. I especially love our downtown. 2 hours free parking in the core. Lots of independently owned shops and service businesses. One of my favourite bookstores ever, The Bookshelf along with its own ebar and cinema in it. A stunning church where you can find grace both in its pews and just by simply looking at it. And kind people. Very kind people. People who are kind even when they don’t have to be.
I haven’t been downtown since before Christmas but had occasion to go there this afternoon. It was a delight visiting some of my favourite shops and walking around on this cool for spring yet still sunny afternoon. At one point, I was cutting through two parking lots to jaunt from one street over to the next one. As I’m walking through, I see the City’s by-law enforcement vehicle stop in one of the parking lots and two men got out.
Where they had stopped was in front of a homeless man who was sleeping, all curled up in sleeping bags and blankets, against the wall of a building. This is not a common sight in Guelph, downtown or otherwise. This city is blessed in that way. Homelessness does exist here, don’t get me wrong. It’s just a touch more invisible than in other cities, being seen more often in youth couch-surfing on friends’ couches, occupancy at shelters, or taking up temporary residence in abandoned buildings. But sadly, yes, it does still exist and I saw it this afternoon.
But I also saw something that I was very happy to see. The two by-law officers knew who the man was and approached him slowly, saying his name quietly at first then louder until he awoke and responded to them. They asked how he was and if he had eaten yet today. They asked if he was warm enough. Yes, they still had to do their duty and ask the man to move along but well before they made that request, they asked questions to simply ask how he was doing. They took the time out of their job while doing their job to give a shit.
I was going to do what I always do when visiting nearby Toronto where my middle kid lives and where, unfortunately there is a lot more visible homelessness. I was going to buy the man a meal and drop it off to him. It’s something I have done for years now and I am a very proud mama to say that my kids have followed in my path and do the same when they can. However, by the time I came back around to that parking lot, he had left already. I hope he found a new place to seek warm and safe shelter and I hope he has found his next meal by now.
Now I have an unusual request for my readers …
Since I wasn’t able to help the homeless man I saw this afternoon, could you please try to help a homeless person where you live instead? Perhaps you live in a larger city where you do see people sleeping on the streets. If yes, please buy them a meal with some juice and give it to them. If this is something you don’t often see, perhaps you can find a shelter of sorts or an organization who helps the homeless. If you can, please make a donation to them. Could be in money, food, blankets, or other things they need. Maybe they could just use your time if you have that to spare.
Don’t whisper about it. Do something about it.
Don’t pass on it. Pass it on.
In response to today’s Daily Prompt: Whisper
Image source: Wikipedia, Public Domain. A view of the Basilica of Our Lady Immaculate church in Guelph, one of Canada’s national historic sites, where city bylaws exist to ensure clear sight lines of the church. Interestingly, this picture would have been taken from just about right where I parked this afternoon for my downtown excursion.