A response to the letter in The Morning Star by Anonymous in regards to the Upper Room Mission.
Anonymous states that most of society considers our guests dregs of society, this statement in our opinion is totally false, and because we and the community thinks this is false is the reason why the Upper Room Mission exists and has the support of the community.
Our guests are not the dregs of society! While many have problems that prevent them from belonging to the mainstream of society, they are equal before the public, (who have supported the Mission for over 30 years), our staff, our volunteers, our board and most of all before God.
The Mission did not stop providing food for our guests over the weekends. As board, staff and volunteers we are asking the guests for a small amount of volunteer work during the week. This is through a well-recognized program called Fresh Start. The Fresh Start program assists individuals to establish purpose and responsibility. This program was well researched and discussed with over 10 agencies in our community that work regularly with many of the guests. These professionals gave much valuable input. It was only after this consultation that the new program was put into effect.
The new program was positively received by the vast majority of the guests. Any guest who has a need and is participating in the Fresh Start program, receives a care package each Friday, which amply provides for their weekend food needs. The care packages are tailored to the individual needs. The staff further works closely with each guest to see that he/she has the proper knowledge for preparing their meals. Guests have been enthusiastic about the program and some are now getting together over the weekend to prepare their meals.
The tasks set before the guests vary and are minor. As an example a guest may participate by cleaning the breakfast tables or by sweeping the floor.
The board of directors will review this program with the supporting agencies of our community after a three-month trial period. The Mission has also put in place a safety network to see that no individual falls through the cracks. It is great to see a guest at the end of the week receiving his/her care package with the joy that they are not just asking for “freebies” but are rewarded for their work. The satisfaction and pride in being part of society, sets them on paths that hopefully will lead them to greater self respect.
As to harassment and intimidation by the RCMP while eating. Anonymous should take the time to see what really occurs between the police and the quests. Two members of the RCMP on street patrol drop in most days during coffee hour. When this first started there were some concerns by a number of the quests. Today most feel very comfortable with the police just like all of us we have nothing to fear.
Both guests and the RCMP street patrol members are getting to know each other. As the guests have come to trust these officers, they are at ease talking to them and many even look forward to seeing these officers.
In conclusion Anonymous should remember that while Christ fed the hungry, He also charged us to look after those in need in every aspect of their lives. It would be far easier just to provide meals; however, the Upper Room Mission’s goal is to look at each guest as a person that requires much more than just a meal.
It is our goal that our guests may become individuals who have overcome their barriers. While we realize that not everyone who comes to the Upper Room Mission will be able to overcome their problems, we will be there for them to provide them with food, clothing, counselling, computer training, medical assistance and literacy training and above all friendship.
Upper Room Mission,