Message from the President
As we move into the colder and rainy weather, it is time again for Manna and its team of volunteers to pick up the pace. This is the time of year when the suffering of the homeless and indigent increases and our services are needed in a more significant manner.
Over the summer months our team of volunteers has increased to 15 and hopefully this number will increase yet again as the need for services grows. Lynne House has taken over sorting of items and we have three new people working with the vans. We have also seen an increase in the number of people we serve and are traveling more often to some of the outer areas now. We will hope to have more contact with the Nanoose First Nations on a regular basis.
Our fall newsletter will be circulated more widely as our mailing list has increased. We hope to begin doing a few stories on some of the less fortunate Manna is helping. This will put a face to some of the people and perhaps help to decrease the stigma attached to homelessness. We will also use the local papers to push for more donations of warmer clothing, bicycles and food supplies starting at the end of November and into December.
Again this year Manna will be purchasing gift coupons at Quality Foods and Save on Foods. There are still funds set aside for this but we have been waiting for the temperatures to drop further. Jerrold, our mobile chaplain, will also carry a supply of these coupons to use when required.
Jerrold has taken over the bicycle transportation program and is doing a great job of repairing the bicycles and providing them to people he has vetted that require them, either for work or to travel back and forth for medical or other types of appointments in the local area. Those people that are sleeping rough are being pushed further and further outside of the town borders and, without bus transportation to these areas, they have great difficulty in getting to appointments or picking up required medications or food supplies. The bicycles have proved a lifeline for them in this regard.
Again this year I have been approached by a number of groups wishing to do fundraisers for Manna. During the summer months, Del, Jerrold, Dave and I did a fundraiser with the Coast Community Credit Union in Qualicum Beach which was extremely successful. Not only did the hot dog sales raise a goodly amount of money, we had an opportunity to network with a number of people we met and hand out copies of our latest CD, A Day in the Life of a Manna Volunteer and A Glimpse into Homelessness, as well as To Die For – a 10-minute mini film which explains the drug problems in Oceanside, the latest statistics, the Fentanyl risks, and how help is still out there for those that wish to take advantage of it. The U-Tube link for this film is below. Please take a few minutes to watch it. www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GVc5vvQ4-4&feature=youtu.be
This fall the Lutheran Church will be doing a music and talent show with all proceeds going to Manna. Shaw TV wishes an interview and this has been arranged for Jerrold to do. The local PQB News has shown an interest in doing a story on the new community care mobile and Penny will speak to this. Our name is getting out there and support is coming in a much more consistent fashion. It is obvious there are a lot of people out there who care passionately about the homeless and would love to see a more permanent solution for them. But the numbers of people requiring help continue to rise so we cannot be complacent, especially at this time of year.
During the summer months, there were too many people showing up at the storage site at all hours to ask for items. In order to get this under control, the vehicles which had been parked there were moved to a more discreet location where they could not be seen from the roadway. We looked at the cost of heated storage units nearby but these were unaffordable for us. Our storage facility will therefore remain where it is and the vehicles themselves will be stored at a different location for the present.
Having all three vehicles out and about over the past few months has made us much more visible and we are now getting more calls from people requiring assistance. After a good summer, I am recharged and ready to take on the fall and winter helping those in need. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the volunteers who have given freely of their time and energy and have really stepped up to help make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate. I would also like to thank the private donors and the corporations that continue their support. Blessings and thanks to all of you.
— Robin Campbell
Chaplaincy Report – Jerrold Paetkau
May 2017 marked the beginning of a new branch of service for Manna Homeless Society. Utilizing a new funding stream and in response to our growing street community, Manna initiated a part-time Community Chaplain position. This new role helps identify that we offer help to address the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs within our street community.
Each week, I participate in community ‘walk-abouts’ – walking the streets of downtown Parksville to meet people sitting on benches, walking the street, lounging against buildings, or huddled near dumpsters. Sometimes, encouragement comes by providing a listening ear or sharing stories of faith struggles. I often ask to pray with people, and they graciously allow me to bring their requests before a loving Heavenly Father who passionately desires to demonstrate His love in the lives of His children. I have also initiated a Wednesday lunch-time bible study and regularly friends stop by and we talk about what God is showing us in His Word and pray for each other. I’m also able to hand out bibles that have been generously donated by the Gideons.
We estimate that there are 30-40 people living in marginal conditions that have embraced a faith in Jesus Christ but find it hard to attend local churches.
One man of faith, who attends a local church, is Fred [pictured below]. Fred is First Nations and has a vibrant faith in Jesus. Each day as he rides around collecting cans and bottles from ditches, he prays for the people who have thrown their trash out of their cars. Fred sees his roll of cleaning ditches as a way to express his love for God the Creator while remembering that God loves him and is providing for his needs through the junk others discard.
For an insight into the way my role as the Community Chaplain is working – you’re invited to bring a donation of socks, gloves, clothing, non-perishable food, sleeping bags, bikes to our vans on Saturday morning [9:30-11:00 Jensen; between the library and fire-hall] and see how we are becoming a community that cares for one another; friends who share by helping and encouraging to seek the resources necessary for personal care.
Bicycle Transportation Program
Used bikes are treasured resources that make a marked positive difference in the lives of people who are marginalized. Many of our friends do not have means of transportation. Each Saturday, we witness wonderful acts of kindness as friends car-pool friends to our vans for food, clothing, bedding, and encouragement. But often car-pooling is not an option for the remainder of the week if a person has a doctor’s appointment, wants to grocery shop, or has a potential for a job. Used bikes become the answer.
In August, I was able to furnish a bike for Tom [not his real name], a First Nations friend starting a new job in Nanaimo. Tom had completed several preparation courses through the Nanoose First Nations and had obtained an afternoon-evening shift at a warehouse in Nanaimo. We were able to provide a bike with lights, a reflective vest, helmet, and spare tire tubes so that Tom could successfully begin this new venture in his life. Two weeks ago, Ruth [not her real name] came to Manna and began to tell us her story. She worked as an emergency nurse in Ontario for nine years until the trauma overwhelmed her and Ruth experienced PTSD. Ruth moved to Vancouver Island to find health and escape the suicidal feelings, she soon ran out of money and resorted to camping. As the summer was waning, Ruth recognized that her health was returning. She had sought help from counsellors, mental health professionals, friends, and the SOS for housing options. So in November Ruth is moving into her own place with the help from SOS and is making steps towards re-employment. We were able to provide Ruth with a bike that will help her maintain an exercise regimen for continued health, and give her the transportation she needs to get back and forth from the job potential awaiting her in November.
Many of you will have seen Fred around town collecting bottles and cans to supplement his income. This supplement is important to Fred. He is an elderly man who has done this type of collecting for many years but it has been getting more and more difficult for him to manage this as he becomes older. Balance is a problem with carrying the bags of bottles and getting off the bicycle and then having to pull it up to climb back on is also difficult. Fred was provided with a three-wheeled bicycle which is easier to balance and has the bonus of a small bicycle trailer attached for Fred to place his bottles and cans into. This has made life a lot easier for Fred.
It is that time of year again when people begin to need warmer clothing. We always require warm used coats and parkas, larger sizes are in great demand as the colder weather requires people to layer their clothing in order to stay comfortable through the days and nights. Socks, gloves, mittens and toques are also in great demand. We still require tents and sleeping bags, used blankets and, of course food supplies are always a necessity. Non-perishable canned and boxed goods are helpful and it goes without saying that cash donations are always helpful as it allows us to purchase the items that are most in demand or those that we have a scarcity of to add to the bagged groceries we hand out. It also allows us to purchase some of the personal items we provide to people such as soap, feminine products, tissue, toothpaste, Band-Aids, etc.
Manna Care Van
The homeless suffer a great many physical difficulties in trying to survive in the elements and often in very inclement weather. But homeless people also suffer from emotional difficulties. Accompanying the hunger and discomforts is an underlying anxiety, lack of self-esteem and lack of a vision for the future. Some people in this situation turn to alcohol or drugs to try and mask the problems but others simply spiral down into depression with a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness. Our Manna Care Van accompanies the distribution van on Saturday mornings. We have some caring volunteers who take the time to listen to problems with a compassionate and nonjudgement attitude, and provide various small services that make life a bit easier for some of the people they speak with. Foot care, products for feminine hygiene, band-aids, soap, toothpaste, denture care products, and various other personal care items are provided. Warm socks and gloves are kept in the van for distribution to those who require them as well.
Island Health videos are available for people to view regarding various health issues and when the volunteers feel it is necessary, Naloxone kits can be provided to individuals who may require them. The most important offering however is the compassion and caring that is sorely required by most of the homeless and the van has become a great place for someone to stop for coffee and chat with one of the volunteers.