Brian came right over to the window seating in McDonald’s and asked the person sitting beside me if that was their bicycle that was locked up outside.
I could only see my bicycle and bike trailer locked to the no parking/bus zone sign, so I piped up and asked if he was referring to mine as I pointed at it.
He and his team partner, Brenda, were in Fairview with care packages of good things for homeless people. Did I know any homeless people? Was I?
A helping hand from Dunbar—how nice for a change
I was indeed. And while we chatted, I flagged down two more homeless guys who stick close to the Fairview neighbourhood.
Brian explained that he and Brenda were with the Saint Philip’s Anglican Church, which is in Dunbar-Southlands, and that together with other Anglican churches, including Saint Helen’s and Saint Agnes, they were part of a nondenominational, nonproselytizing outreach effort called Street Ministry.
The two of them were new in the area and they wanted to get to know the homeless population of Fairview—how many there were and where they hung out.
I think their goal was to build a list of “clients” they could regularly assist.
Connecting members of a marginalized group to the services designed to help them is, I think, a textbook goal of outreach and that’s what Brenda and Brian were doing.
This is all good and in some contrast to what I have seen from other Downtown Eastside-based outreach groups, which seem to practise what might be called “drive-by” charity.
In fact, my most recent encounter with the two women from the Lookout outreach involved the pair in their car behind me in a back alley while I was binning.
All they wanted to do was pass my bike and trailer so they could, I imagine, continue on their quest find the sort of homeless people they recognize as such.
And honestly and sincerely, kudos to them for helping whomever they help.
I will always be able to feed myself in Vancouver but all the same, I really appreciated the Ziploc bag of goodies Brian and Brenda gave me, which, by the way, included a sandwich, socks, sardines (canned), a disposable razor, a meal replacement beverage, bottled water, a cereal bar, and a fruit cup.
And they handed me a peanut butter cup—yum!