Today I want to tell you about a location we helped clean up in our community. Without giving you the specific spot, know that this is somewhere that some of our friends are currently ‘rough sleeping’. We visit this location twice a week during outreach, and often times in-between to check on some of our more vulnerable friends, or to drop off additional supplies. This is in OUR community, Chatham-Kent. These are the people whom have ‘fallen through the cracks’, most of them with drug addictions and mental health concerns. This is the core purpose of ROCK – to find these people, reach out to connect, and give them some hope.
As we continue through today's blog, I’ll show you some pictures of our clean up adventure. Why did we go clean up their mess, you ask? Well, because they tried. They made a huge pile of garbage bags full of debris, but had nowhere to take it to. Anything left out is torn apart by critters, and it’s unsanitary.
They also don’t always have, or use, proper disposal containers for their needles. Yes, needles. We picked up a lot. (Statistic – as of this week we have retrieved and safely disposed of over 44,700 needles from ALL of our locations in the year we have been in operation. We use harm reduction and safe needle exchange for the locations we visit that have friends who use. That is over 40 thousand needles that we ensured were not left out or disposed of in our community in a non-safe manner. Ultimately, if we could get ALL our friends help, this would become a non-issue – can you imagine not having that kind of worry in our community anymore?) The yellow containers in the picture below are sharps containers - we brought a bunch and left with a bunch more that we've been leaving regularly.
So, the purpose of showing you these pics isn’t to toot our own horn, we want to engage you. We want to have conversations with ALL of you, and your family, and your friends, and everyone in this community about making Chatham-Kent a place where everyone is looked after. Where our impoverished friends who have issues with drugs and mental health are looked after as readily as any other citizen. Where we worry more about the people living in those tents and NOT the appearance and the politics of tent cities. We have to put supports under these people, who literally have nothing, and raise them up instead of hiding them, or refusing to see them.
Ultimately, I’m here to invoke your empathy. Pictures help us give you an idea of how they’re living, and my words are here to tell you that they are in YOUR community. The same community that was celebrating a miracle two months ago by gathering so much food that we didn’t know where to put it all. Look at those pictures, imagine living there. Think it’s just like camping? Try camping without water, or access to a toilet, or shower, with no cooler full of food (definitely no cold beer) and no option to drive home when you get rained out or the mosquitoes are eating you alive. Or cause it’s just to damned hot. This is where our friends are, who we need to reach.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for listening to my ramblings. Please, if it inspires you to want to help, please reach out. We are always on the look out for volunteers. If you want to help us financially, we accept donations, cash (cheque or e-transfer). We always, always need your support.
Much love and care from us all!