"It's" not just there ..."it's" here too!! Actually, "it's" here and there and in most places in between. :(
Poverty: the poor, the homeless, those underfunded and without hope, promise or care. I've witnessed homelessness in the Dominican, in Rome, in Ireland (etc.) and here in Canada too. I don't think that as a child you promise yourself: "when I grow up, I want my home to be a box of the finest cardboard". But the harsh reality is, this is where some (even children) find themselves.
Without taking a picture or staring or turning a 'blind-eye' or speaking, you carry-on, but your heart aches. You make a mental vow to do something, even if it's to -not take what you have for granted- you resolve to do something. I am thankful each and every day for the roof over my head, my job(s), my support system, the opportunities and the experiences that I've been blessed to see and do (just as you are).
I live on Canada’s East Coast, in a city that offers: entertainment, culture, spirit, history, community, activity and diversity. People from all walks of life call this area home, thus creating an opportunity for humanitarian involvement. And because such opportunities for involvement exist, we're unfortunately not exempt to the social issues endured around the globe.
There are many organizations locally (and around the world) that work diligently to prevent/end hunger, poverty, abuse, inequality, homelessness, etc. Youth in Transition Inc. is an agency that "addresses the needs of at-risk and/or homeless young women by offering a supportive living arrangement in conjunction with programs aimed at increasing their self-esteem and independent living skills. Too old for child protection services, yet too young to be considered adults, these youth often have no voice".
So in 1996, Youth in Transition Inc., built a residence (Chrysalis House) that would become a haven for many at-risk teenage girls (aged 16-19) and provide them a family-like setting where they could establish themselves, develop and grow in a positive direction. To help fund the costs to operate this house, a fundraiser "12 hours for the Homeless" is organized annually.
What is 12 hours for the Homeless? How does it work? I had no idea myself until this past weekend. You enter a team (we had four, but it can be a maximum of 10 participants), raise funds and then simply give 12 hours of your time on the day of the event. You raise awareness of teenage homelessness, while raising money to keep a real roof over the heads of those residing at Chrysalis House.
On the day of the event, which is held one Saturday night in October, you arrive in a downtown public park where you will construct a cardboard shelter. Your creativity and skill will be put to the test, as this shelter will be where you, and your teammates, spend the night (from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m.). Some supplies will be provided, but you should arrive with supplies (extra tape, tarps, cardboard etc.) necessary to construct a durable, weather resistant and somewhat comfortable accommodations.
Throughout the evening, they had food vendors, music and entertainment. The entire park was a buzz of activity as all teams worked very hard to construct their works of awareness. I am so grateful that our team Captain, Kathleen, had asked me to participate. What an incredible experience.
It was a little windy at the start, but no wet weather in the forecast (thankfully). Once we got the hang of it and began working as a team (The Squeegies), we accomplished great things. :) The night sky arrived long before we had attached our tarps (which we creatively did with dental floss) to tent pegs. It took a total of two and a half hours to build our home and upon completion, it really wasn't prize worthy.
I'd like to thank Carla, Jemelia and Kathleen (captain) for their amazing house building skills. I'm still astonished that when we awoke (for those who did sleep -me, heheh), our '4 bedroom, split entry' (it so was not haha), had withstood the test of the damp, windy, overnight weather and was still standing in its entirety! I am honoured to have participated with the three of you (and with all other participants) for such a worthwhile cause.
I could see me forgoing a vacation in the future for
one night, in a park, in a box ... for 12 hours for the Homeless.
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