The issue of homelessness is not only difficult to witness, but it can also be challenging to address. It is easier to distance ourselves from the problem and view it as someone else’s concern. However, we must remember that homelessness affects everyone in the community, and our collective responsibility is to address it.
When we see those experiencing homelessness as “the other,” we dehumanize them and fail to recognize their inherent worth and dignity. It is crucial to remember that every person, regardless of their circumstances, is made in the image of God and deserves to be treated with respect and compassion. This can feel difficult when we see some of the ways the homeless population live and affect our community. It can feel overwhelming when the issue is so large and we aren’t sure how to talk about it, deal with or help those struggling in addiction, poverty and brokenness.
To address homelessness, we must first acknowledge that it is a multifaceted issue that requires a comprehensive approach. This approach could include providing affordable housing, access to healthcare and mental health services, and employment opportunities. We have many organizations doing the hard and good work to provide housing and getting people off the streets but access to these essential services remains a challenge due to the high need in our community, and across the country. This is an ongoing issue that the government and many non profits are working hard to address, unfortunately homelessness is a messy issue that is not easily solved over night, especially with a lack of resources and time.
However, it is not just the responsibility of the government and non-profit organizations to address homelessness. As community members, we can also play a role in supporting those experiencing homelessness, marginalization and isolation. This could include volunteering at a local shelter, donating to organizations that provide services for those in need, or simply treating those we encounter with kindness and empathy.
Homelessness and poverty are community issues, and it will take all of us working together to create lasting change.
Here are some ways you can come along side The Upper Room Mission to take action and fight against poverty and homelessness in our community:
- Support The Mission by becoming a monthly donor. We are not government funded, so we rely on individual donations and community grants to keep our services available to those most in need.
- Donate your time. We are always looking for community-minded people to join our fantastic team of volunteers, and we have plenty of areas where we need your help.
- Shop our most needed items through our Amazon wishlists. We have items on our critical needs lists that we go through often. When running low, we are always amazed at how someone will donate precisely what we need. We created three lists you can shop from to support The Mission.
- Join our prayer team. We believe in the power of prayer and would love for you to join our prayer team in supporting our staff, guests and all the work we do through prayer.
- Donate and shop at The Mission Boutique Thrift Store. Our thrift store provides hope to those restarting their lives by making goods more affordable and accessible. Also, every purchase directly supports the Upper Room Mission’s ongoing services and programs.
If the topic of homelessness is important to you and you want to support other organizations working in this area, we recommend looking into the following local organziations:
Turning Points Collaborative Society provides outreach, shelter services and various housing options for vulnerable people experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, homelessness in the Okanagan. We also offer employment programs, addictions recovery programs and affordable housing options. We believe in the inherent dignity of the people we serve and seek to support them as the experts in their own lives.
The House of Hope has been an active contributor to Vernon’s social fabric for over 25 years. More than 1100 people are being assisted through the Food Bank’s programs each month. The Salvation Army Food Bank in Vernon BC is a member of Food Banks British Columbia (FBBC) and an affiliated member of the Canadian Association of Food Banks. We are the only authorized Food Bank in Vernon.
In January 2016 the chaplaincy began a new area of ministry. As Chuck continued to see gaps he saw a need for spiritual care in a different setting, and physical care as well. There was also no regular food service for the marginalized of our community and, combining these two needs, Street Church was formed.
The Ecumenical Concerns Committee coordinates the work of providing a free, public hot lunch on Saturdays throughout the year. The lunch is hosted at All Saints each week; our parish provides a volunteer team to produce and serve the lunch on a rotation basis with other groups. All Saints is also one of the pick up locations for the Good Food Box Program in Vernon.
A delivered evening meal service to Vernon’s street population. Hot meals are prepared daily, and distributed at convenient pick-up locations through-out Vernon. In addition to hot meals being served, the street population is offered some basic toiletry and personal care items, including socks, deodorant, soap, hand sanitizer, undergarments, toilet paper, oral hygiene items, and cold weather items (hats, gloves, hand warmers, and emergency foil blankets).
Archway Society for Domestic Peace provides a wide range of supportive services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence through safe shelter, counselling, child and youth advocacy, outreach services, and collaborative community projects. Formerly Vernon Women’s Transition House Society, Archway Society has deep roots in the North Okanagan.
There are many more amazing supports and services in Vernon that you can connect with and support. Homelessness is not something we will solve overnight. It is complex and messy and involves many different stories and situations. This makes it challenging to provide a one-size-fits-all solution to the problem. However, this is your problem. It is our problem. It is a community problem and if we work together we can make a difference.