Winter 2019 – Bob (not his real name) started coming to Hope Street CMC’s Sunday meal in the early weeks of January. Bob was here from Ontario and was looking for work. Bob was living in a tent on the outskirts of the Hat in the River Valley. Bob chosen that location because being outside Medicine Hast city limits meant he was not being hassled by the local police service.
Living in a tent in the middle of winter has its share of challenges but this past winter was extremely cold, especially for Medicine Hat. Bob told us on how hard it was to stay warm at night. Because it was -30C or colder, all breathing in the tent and any body heat he was able to produce resulted in his blankets becoming damp and then freezing. Because Bob was so far from any place that offered warmth, he was unable to dry out his clothes or bedding.
It also added issues with food. Bob could only take what he could use right away because everything would freeze in a short period of time. He had no way to heat or defrost food so he had to consume food items immediately or that same day.
Bob was seeking a job but because of the situation of the economy, there was not much available in his area of expertise; construction. We tried to help him find work but even all of our contacts were faced with laying off employees due to lack of work and cold weather.
The hardest conversation we had was the Sunday after a -40C night where Bob went to the local hospital at 3am because he thought he was going to freeze to death in his tent. To make a long story short, Bob survived the winter evenings in his tent but just barely.
Bob came in just after the weather broke and warmer temperatures came back and we hardly recognized him. Clean shaven with short hair made him look like a different person. He told us he was going to a couple job imnterviews and needed to look better in his appearance in order to be worth hiring. Bob thanked the volunteers at Hope Street for being there and feeding him when no one else would. He did not go stay at the local homeless shelter for reasons we will not go into.
Bob does not attend Hope Street CMC any longer as we assume he found a job or moved on. The relationship we were able to build with Bob helped us to know how to better help him and through compassion and empathy, bob became a friend and a volunteer at Hope Street CMC. We miss seeing Bob but wish him all the blessings he can receive and a bright hope for tomorrow.