The amount of folks that we see out on the street seems to grow every week. Reversely, the amount of donations both monetary and physical are reduced to a trickle.
We have a very tight budget and try to work with what we have, but that means we needed to reduce snacks from a handful, to 2 items, now down to only one. We went through 20 flats of water as well; it's not even hot out!
As a volunteer, it is extremely hard to say "no" to someone that is already struggling. The large team with all of the food only goes out once a week. The smaller teams during the week have small snacks, but never the full meal deal. There are places where unhoused folks can go to get meals, but they are mass produced and not able to be made with love like our sandwich team does each and every week. (We get so many compliments on how delicious our sandwiches are!)
The "walk of shame" started to happen weeks ago. This is when we completely run out of supplies of any kind and need to walk back through the inner city to get back to our starting point to go home for the night. Folks can get mighty upset when they are "hangry" and we have nothing for them.
I carry a lit smudge pan with me throughout our route. This is a small comfort for our indigenous brothers and sisters that don't have access to sage - it's really hard to find in the city. Being able to cleanse and pray can make a huge difference to those that desire that connection with the Creator.
I was privileged enough to take a sponsored "vacation" last week in beautiful British Columbia for some grounding and communing with nature and my drum. It gave me a bit more pep in my step to do some extra reaching out to folks along the route.
My smudge had been doing strange things all night (it journeyed with me to BC and back). When someone would approach that needed the healing, the smoke would very suddenly get thick - like it almost had a spirit of its own. It did this several times. Near the end of the night it suddenly went into flames (I have never seen sage do that) where it had to be doused with water before it burned my hand.
A few minutes later someone noticed I still had it in my hand and asked to smudge, so I re-lit it for him and let him do so. The smoke was thin and barely present.
Then a tiny elder approached and asked if she could smudge. The smoke suddenly got very thick for her. I commented that "it likes you" and we both laughed out loud.
Being empathetic, I sensed a sadness in her and asked if she needed a hug. She replied "yes". It was one of those long hugs where you just don't want to let go...
She told me that she felt so heavy all day, then she met me and "poof" it all went away and she felt lighter again. She called me an angel and went on her way.
This moment will forever live on in my heart. SHE is why I continue to fight for my unhoused brothers and sisters. SHE is why I do what I do.