Before we get to vote in October, I thought I’d share some experiences while working in the non-profit sector of Surrey British Columbia.
I started at XXX’s when I was in my late teens, but by then I’d already had several years almost a decade, working with folks every weekend who needed a little extra help. In my younger years, I provided meals with tons of other volunteers, and my brother and I inspired an entire city to give so much that by our final Christmas dinner we were giving away 10,000 dollars worth of gifts and presents to folks who came to eat and gather for Christmas.
It was a really, really rewarding and cool experience to be a part of something that people from all over the world came to be. Still, it was also incredibly disheartening, and now that I’m much, much removed from that world, let’s talk about some of the things that I saw, that could have ended very badly, if not for the fact that *I* in particular was there.
I one had a female volunteer grab my ass – and later ask me why “they,” meaning our guests at the weekly meals and events, couldn’t just “get over,” whatever reason ended with them being without a house to live in.
Another time I had to explain to the same volunteer that one does not simply “get over,” childhood sexual abuse and that by working in a church-based organization it wasn’t her place to judge, what others went through or how they are handling it, only to give them as much help as we are able when we are able. I was reprimanded for this, repeatedly.
I was once asked about addictions and I said that everyone has them – running, working out, drugs, coffee, food, everyone has something that they are compelled to do, some are healthy attributive to a better stronger life, and others are not, but everyone has that 1 thing that they can’t give up. I was reprimanded for this too.
I was told I suck repeatedly by the same volunteer that told all the lies that had us all in tears by the end of the adventure, and on a regular basis food that I would make for more than 50 people would be insulted or thrown out, after hours spent cooking it, just because people were mad at me.
Repeatedly my qualifications were called into question when the majority of my job was spent getting to know people so that I could ensure they had access to the right services, I was *basically a social worker* without working as a social worker, but my experience on the front lines was often not enough for the wealthy elite who came to judge the work we were doing to decide whether or not to give us their money.
I’d been volunteering and then working with houseless and marginalized folks since I was 14, so I had a lot more experience with what people needed than a lot of new cops on the streets today, and I was really, REALLY good at getting to people in ways others couldn’t.
I see the pain and the sorrow on the people who are on the streets, and as Christmas is coming up just around the corner behind Samhain, I’m going to ask that when you vote, don’t forget, you’re voting for ALL your neighbours, not just the ones who can live inside.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall