Homeless in Vancouver: Look out, the outreach ladies are back!

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      The Lookout Society’s outreach team was back to do another drive-through of the Fairview neighbourhood.

      Once again I only crossed paths with them in an alley—the same alley as the last time. But this time the woman at the wheel of the little Lookout car actually said “hi” to me through her open window as she blew passed me.

      That’s progress, right?

      I really hope they found what they were looking out for

      They apparently weren’t in Fairview to assist the general homeless population. Once again, the two Lookout volunteers appeared to be looking only for their “clients”.

      They continued passed me into the middle of the next block, slowed and stopped. This put them across from the former sleeping spot of the one street person in Fairview that I know they do consistently try to help.

      I expected that, like me, they were headed to the McDonald’s on South Granville—me to get breakfast, they to continue looking for that particular homeless fellow.

      I took a very meandering path and stopped frequently along the way to talk to binners and Dumpster divers. And I binned a little bit myself.

      So it took me all of an hour to reach McDonald’s. The Lookout volunteers beat me there by about an hour.

      I spoke to a homeless binner who gets there early every morning. He was sitting in his usual window seat looking out on the alley.

      He smiled and confirmed to me that, yes, the little blue Lookout car had come by. It had turned off Broadway into the alley beside McDonald’s and slowed. The binner told me the two women had both looked directly at his bike and bags of bottles propped against the alley-side wall of McDonald’s. And then they had continued on their way up the alley.

      If they really had swung by the restaurant just to see a particular street person was there, then they wasted a trip; that fellow was barred from McDonald’s a few weeks ago for making a mess and yelling at the staff.

      No one gets barred from McDonald’s forever but for the time being the Outlook people might try the Tim Hortons on the corner of Fir and West Broadway.

      The Lookout Society has been in existence for over 40 years—since 1971, providing shelter beds and transitional housing. Its outreach program is intended to bring help and access to social services directly to homeless people.

      Lookout is administered from the Downtown Eastside, but has expanded its outreach efforts to include central Vancouver, New Westminster, and the North shore.

      My homeless friend Rick speaks highly of the two Lookout outreach “ladies” as he calls them. He says they are based out of the Yukon Shelter, which is part of the Lookout Society’s presence in central Vancouver.

      Homeless people need better brand recognition

      It certainly appeared to me that the Lookout outreach team was being choosey, but perhaps they were just having trouble distinguishing the street people from the non-street people in Fairview. That’s understandable actually. The homeless in Fairview are wearing the hand-me-down clothes residents in the neighbourhood throw out. So we do dress similarly.

      The homeless binner in McDonald’s and I mused, not for the first time, that perhaps street people had a branding problem—and right here I want to cut off any ranchers in my audience before they chime in with their solutions.

      We homeless people might think we stick out like sore thumbs but perhaps we’re more needles in the haystack. Perhaps we really need to indulge in some marketing: creating a logo or a mark we could wear that could help outreach workers and others identify us at a glance.

      Something simple. My binner friend agreed but said that unfortunately the best one, the star, was already taken. Darn!

      Anyway. It’s something to work on. It would be nice to have it ready in time for the next Homeless Action Week.

      Stanley Q. Woodvine is a homeless resident of Vancouver who has worked in the past as an illustrator, graphic designer, and writer. 


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      Jun 19, 2014 at 4:53pm

      Maybe the are looking for those who are TRULY in need.

      Stanley Q Woodvine

      Jun 19, 2014 at 6:41pm

      Gosh Bobo, good point. The one they seemed to be looking for is a full-time jibber who, seemingly for that reason alone, gets full disability.

      Yes I guess he needs the help. He says the MacBook Pro his family bought for him was "stolen".

      The other binner in McD and myself are 100% self-supporting homelessness.

      Another fellow who was sitting with the binner at the time is living in the MPA apartments and has permanently compromised health yet he was, last I spoke to him, unable to qualify for disability.

      He could've benefited mightily from a Lookout "care package." His $235 of Welfare can't stretch so far.


      Jun 23, 2014 at 9:49am

      to see the upper crust at least doing something even tho they get to pick and choose who they help

      Nice Doggy

      Jun 23, 2014 at 2:59pm

      wonder if they got him doing tricks yet for their handouts