It was the day before the pipes burst when I spoke with Bev Henke, of the Upper Room Mission. Bev is the outreach supervisor and has been with them for years.
You can see the no-nonsense compassion in her eyes and you know that those eyes have observed first-hand the pain, the degradation and humiliation of poverty that not a lot of people have seen.
The impact of this situation at the URM is enormous.
It has hit the most vulnerable population, those who may have a mental illness, who perhaps self medicate, the working poor and seniors who cannot quite make it on their pensions.
The URM gives people a glimmer of hope and helps to change lives by helping to put dignity back where it belongs. All human beings deserve to live in dignity. Poverty, and the exhaustion that goes along with the non-stop effort it takes to survive, can strip this away and in fact, does.
Like the woman who used to live on the streets in another Okanagan city who moved to Vernon and went to the URM for shelter issues. With help, she was able to turn her whole life around and now lives (by comparison) what Bev calls ,“a white picket fence life.”
She works at the mission giving back what was given to her and empowering others who need help. She’s walked the walk. A powerful full circle moment.
There are others who have changed their life and who also work at the mission. They also empower others by the example of who they were compared to who they are now.
As well as providing food, clothing and helping people find a place to live, the Upper Room Mission is a meeting place where kindness, understanding and encouragement is freely given out in large dollops. It is a safe haven where people can go and know that judgment will not be attached to the help they are given.
We need to make sure this agency gets back up on its feet and is able to continue doing what it does best.
It could be you that they are helping one day. Remember the ‘80s when CEOs lost jobs, homes and everything they had and ended up living in their cars? As you think of Christmas and perhaps wonder what you might give to someone, please stop and realize that if you have to think too hard about what to give, it may mean that person has enough.
Consider what you might spend on those who are fortunate in life to have found a good job (or fortunate to have had the financial ability for education), who enjoy a comfortable pension, who live in a comfortable home, who have people who care for them, consider the pressure you may feel to gift them.
Maybe consider another way to gift this year.
Donate the money you may have spent on someone who has enough, to a place where it will enhance and potentially change the quality of another human beings life.
Choose to help change a life this year. Give from your heart via your bank account. You will make a difference in someone’s life.
Merry Christmas everyone.
Carole Fawcett is a counsellor, clinical hypnotherapist and freelance writer. www.amindfulconnection.