On one of the recent rainy afternoons, I noticed a man lying on the sidewalk along the one-way stretch of Fraser Highway. A couple of people were standing there and a fire truck was pulling up but for the most part traffic was moving by and people on the sidewalk were skirting by the scene.
There seemed to be no urgency.
I remember a time in my home town of Langley when someone collapsing on the main street would have been front page news.
Someone from the local paper would have come from the newspaper office and someone else would have summoned a doctor from one of the close by doctor’s offices and the story would report that “Mr. Smith from Livingston Road was now resting comfortably at home.” But that was a long time ago.
I could assume this man on the sidewalk was one of our homeless people because there was a shopping cart beside him overflowing with garbage bags full of cans, bicycle parts and blankets. There would be no front page story because this was just another nameless, faceless statistic, probably an overdose, right?
Now those of you that have read this far are divided into two groups. Some think, “this man is dirty and a criminal and if we keep feeding and housing him and others like him, Langley City will soon be ‘The Place to Be Homeless.’”
Others shake their heads and feel compassion and guilt that we, as a community, are not doing more to help these unfortunate souls and we should be petitioning our three levels of government to become proactive in finding a solution.
Those who deal with the situation every day agree that some homeless are criminals but not all are criminals. Some homeless are unwashed and don’t care, but not all. They are individuals, each with a story we can’t imagine and we all know the solution is not easy or quick.
But most of us, deep inside, feel we should be doing something. If you are one of those, the Gateway of Hope is holding its Coldest Night of The Year walk at 4 p.m. on Saturday Feb. 24.
You can register as an individual, as a family or put together a team. With your pledges the Gateway hopes to raise $20,000 to keep the shelter open, provide programs, food, school supplies and clothing for those in need. There are three walks to choose from, a 2K, a 5k and a 10 k, and they all end up back at the Gateway of Hope for chili, hot dogs and live entertainment. Simply contact the Gateway of Hope for more info or register online. (Google Coldest Night of the Year Langley).
It’s a great opportunity to meet some passionate people at the shelter.
You have a choice, walk, rain or shine, and raise money and be part of the solution, or sit warm and dry and watch Hockey Night in Canada. We’re pretty lucky we have that choice, many don’t.
At least that’s what McGregor says.