I think the most impactful moment on outreach, for me, last night was when we found a guy under the bridge. He was sleeping close by the river on a concrete platform. As we approached, in the dark, We see a human body shape start to be lit up by our flashlights. It’s in moments like this – I prepare myself for that one day we come across a soul that has passed. I dread the fact that this could very well be a likely outcome.
My heart rejoiced that this life was still alive
It was about -16 degrees outside. No human should have to be asleep, outside in this kind of weather. I was bundled up and yet cold. Never mind by the River, as I later suggested to him could very well be the worst place to be asleep. The River is merely a giant deep freezer around this time of year.
As we approach closer the little corner he was balled up in. We say “outreach” repeatedly announcing our presence. He aroused and came to motion. My heart rejoiced that this life was still alive. He had 2 blankets, a jacket on, and Gloves. Not enough, to survive the night.
We helped him wrap himself inside the emergency blanket
We encouraged him to access shelters. He said, for whatever reasoning he was banned or could not enter any of them, a story we here often. I explained that at these temperatures they could have compassion. I could call and they may let him in. He refused our help in that. We gave him extra gloves, 2 toques, 2 emergency blankets, extra socks, a few packs of hand warmers. We helped him wrap himself inside the emergency blankets inside his two blankets. We gave Him a few packs of hand warmers that we opened and he used them immediately for warmth. For 8 hours they Should make some heat for him. He was clearly shivering, and Cold. We left him a big brown bag of chocolates, a few sandwiches, lots of granola bars. We know the extra calories, and sugars, although not healthy, Should help his Body generate more heat.
My colleague and fellow outreach worker, Lyndsay and I, Helped him tuck back in all the corners of his blankets under him to prevent the cold from seeping back in. Almost like tucking in someone to sleep for the night. It’s little moments like this, the small pieces of love and compassion like this, that we hope inspires love in someone’s life. Our special guest, for the night, was MLA Jeremy Nixon. I think he recognized this special moment and that it was far too common. A person who was first, became last – so that another who was last could become first. This was love in motion
we were offering a hope that might have seemed foreign.
We told him we cared. He knew we wanted to help. We told him we were afraid he may not survive the night if he chose to continue to sleep there last night. We urged him to let us assist and making some calls. Ultimately we had to respect his choice. Clearly, for whatever reasoning, he felt comfortable with his depressed state. Perhaps our mind gets used too and prefers what we already know; we were offering a hope that might have seemed foreign.
Perhaps we saved another human life
Although we didn’t get him into any shelter. Although we weren’t able to encourage him to change his mind. We were able to leave emergency supplies that would indeed help him survive, outside last night. Perhaps we saved another human life that otherwise might have perished? Perhaps our efforts were just in Vain. We must remember we don’t know everyone’s individual story. We don’t know what led him there. We don’t know why he felt he was worth just laying there like that. But I do know regardless of It all, human life is precious – it’s valuable. It deserves, love, empathy and compassion. This man, this human being, is someone’s son, someone’s uncle, someone’s father, someone’s someone. He is loved by someone out there – he means the world to someone out there indeed.
It was radical love like this that inspired and helped activate my potential
It is because of the support and donations of Calgarian’s alike that we could offer him hope, compassion, and real tangible supplies to survive for the night. I’m writing this because I want you who donate to know the types of Impact you are making. Your Impacts are saving lives. They are perhaps inspiring hope. This human has potential for greatness. It is in moment like this that greatness could be saved, and reactivated. A heart touched in a way that inspires change. This is what be the change is all about. Thank you Calgary – for sharing your love, compassion, and being a light in a dark place for So many in need. When I experienced homelessness, it was unconditional acts of love like this that inspired me to be the change In my life. It was radical love like this that inspired and helped activate my potential. So thank you Calgary. You are an inspiration for many futures to come.
Written by: Chaz Smith