Despite being homeless, Arlene Smith has found ways to live a healthy and meaningful life. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

Woman finds ways to give, despite being homeless

Music, prayer, meditation help make living in car more bearable for Shuswap resident

“If we can live with a little less and give a lot more, we would solve so many issues.”

Arlene Smith, who has been in the Shuswap since 2008, is living in her car. She makes this remark about giving, on the heels of recounting how generous and kind people have been to her and what a difference it’s made.

In 2017, she was living in subsidized housing because of mental health issues she was undergoing. Then came complaints about her mental health and behaviours, so she was asked to leave, she explains, making note of the irony.

“I know everybody was doing what they needed to do,” she adds.

She ended up camping at Skimikin Lake, where, on her first night, her neighbours there checked on her and gave her food and a heater. The kindness continued – people regularly left food for her, one man gave her a fresh trout.

Smith tries to give in return, a practice she says has been instrumental in her healing.

“When I’m stuck in myself I don’t see the opportunities out there. To help somebody else changes my whole way of thinking.”

Read more: Homeowner surprised when renter invites homeless camp to BC backyard

One day she found herself smoking medical marijuana at 4 a.m.

“I thought ‘what am I doing? I want to turn my life over to Jesus,” she says, noting she was also on stronger drugs for her mental illness. “The medication I was on made me gain so much weight, I craved carbohydrates and sugar, and I was over-medicated and wrongly prescribed. I said, I don’t want to live this way.”

Read more: Government help doesn’t cover rent

She changed her diet and consequently lost 75 pounds.

“I know a lot of my healing was change of diet, a change of attitude, and gratitude. Instead of me being so self centred, I started thinking about others.”

Smith is also an accomplished musician.

“Using prayer, meditation – music is what keeps my soul alive.”

Busking helps a little financially. On Sunday she busks for the Lord, suggesting people give their money to someone else who needs it.

Read more: Stories united Canadians on homelessness action – UBC study

She thinks of how much could be raised for those in need if everyone gave a dollar or so every couple of months.

Smith has become something of an expert on living in a car, although recently she received help so she was able to stay in a motel for a while. Like so many people, finding an affordable place to live has been impossible.

“Everybody could end up in my circumstances; they’re one mortgage payment or one illness away.”

Finding a safe place to park is the biggest problem, she says, and having to keep moving all the time uses up precious gas. Not to mention living in a car is, in terms of privacy, like living in a fishbowl.

One of the biggest problems from having no address means finding employment or registering for training becomes very difficult.

But, she doesn’t give up. She sees miracles all around.

“Each life is a miracle and each day is a gift. As they say, yesterday is history, tomorrow’s a mystery and today is a gift – that’s why they call it the present.”

Martha


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Vernon Tigers, South Okanagan Flames play to wild draw

Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League match ends 17-17; overtime solves nothing

Okanagan adventurer continues motorcycle trip around the world

Vernon local James Leigh recently completed the third of five legs of the journey, travelling through China and Kazakhstan

Okanagan-Shuswap Weather: Most long-weekend rain has already fallen

A mix of sun and cloud is expected for the last two days of the the Victoria Day weekend.

Riders “step up” their game at Equestrian Clinic

Riders from across the Okanagan travelled to Coldstream to train for the 2019 55+ Senior Games, which take place in Kelowna this fall.

Update: Mother dead, youth in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Sandy Point Campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Kelowna RCMP interrogation video brings home reality in ‘visceral way’: former TRC chairman

Video of Mountie interrogating young Indigenous woman disclosing sexual abuse under fire

Court decision prompts regional district to throw flood mitigation back at province

Public safety minister maintains Newsome Creek concerns in hands of local government

Woodworth purchased Summerland rink, created butcher operation

Giant’s Head Rink had been one of three facilities in Summerland

Canadian killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

Get those flowers competition ready

Gardeners will come together June 29, for the 22nd Juried Flower Show

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Some South Okanagan students are $1,000 richer

Million Dollar Bursary Program offers bursaries each year to Interior Savings’ young members

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Montreal researchers create audible hockey puck for visually impaired players

Three years ago, Gilles Ouellet came up with the idea for a puck that makes a continuous sound

Most Read