Hope Street Blog

Reality Check

December 1, 2018 – Today is important to us at Hope Street because it is the official launch of the 5th Annual Coldest Night of the Year campaign which will be held on Saturday, Feb 23, 2019. This event has raised over $75,000.00 for Hope Street CMC in the past 4 years. The Coldest Night is a Canada-Wide event that will be held in 127+ locations all on Feb 23. From the East to the West, North to the South, thousands of Canadians will walk in support of local charities!  And Why??  Because it’s cold out there…

Saturday, December 1, 2018 was the second month that Hope Street has been responsible for the Saturday Meal at St. Barnabas. We have agreed to take care of the first Saturday of each month. On this day, we were unable to use the church building as the fellowship hall had been booked for another event. We served a bag lunch out of the back of the Hope Street CMC Cargo Trailer. For the start of December, the weather was not terrible but it did present some challenges as we served our lunch to our guests.

Hope Street Compassionate Ministry Centre - Medicine Hat- Dec 1, 2018 Weather

The weather wasn’t quite as cold as the picture shows at 3pm. It was -3C, snowing, cold, wet and there was a bit of wind blowing – I was quite uncomfortable. So the reality is that it WAS cold out there. We had 20 guests today for our meal. I handed out 2 lunches each as I knew there were not going to be a great many show up because of the weather. I was amazed to find out that 7 out of the 20 had no warm place to go to eat their lunch. 35% of our guests today had to sit outside in the cold to eat a lunch they had to walk through snow and ice to receive.

I didn’t want to embarrass anyone and to respect their privacy, i just took a picture of the location to emphasize where they were. 7 of our guests were huddled in behind that white decorative wall eating their lunch!  The REALITY is that even though the City of Medicine Hat has done an incredible job in dealing with homelessness, there is still a problem for some people. That is why Hope Street CMC exists and that is why we are looking to expand our capacity to feed hungry guests in the future. Because it’s cold out there…

Hope Street CMC - because is't cold out there...
Hope Street CMC - Coldest Night of the Year
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You can see in the countdown above that the Coldest Night event is just shy of 3 months away (as of the date of this post). If you want to join us, then visit www.cnoy.org/medicinehat and sign up as a Team Captain, Walker, Volunteer, Donate or Sponsor. 

Please consider joining with us on February 23, 219 and make a difference in the life of a Hope Street CMC Guest. Because IT IS cold out there…

Coldest Night of the Year 2019 - Medicine Hat, AB

Homelessness in Medicine Hat?

Hope Street CMC - Homelessness Question

There is a lot of talk currently about the idea of whether or not there are still homeless persons living in Medicine Hat. I don’t know if I am willing to throw my opinion into this discussion. I know that we continue to serve an average of 85-90 guests each Sunday at the Hope Street Family Safe Meal. A number of our guests would still say they are homeless if you asked them the question. The definition that is being used to define homelessness becomes the defining factor:

  • Chronic VS Actual
  • Sleeping on the Street VS Sleeping on a Couch
  • Accepting Help VS Choosing to do it Alone
 So instead of trying to define or answer the Homeless Number question, I would like to touch on a subject that makes the question above appear MUTE!
Hope Street CMC - Poverty is a BIG Issue!

POVERTY 

The issue I see and deal with almost daily is the fact that Medicine Hat is now known world-wide as the first place to eradicate Homelessness; and this title brings with it a overbearing idea that because we have eradicated Homelessness, we must not have any poverty either. Because living in poverty and being homeless are one in the same! RIGHT??…        WRONG!! The fact that Medicine Hat has done an awesome job in dealing with Chronic Homelessness has no bearing on whether or not we have impoverished or disadvantaged persons living in our city. We do… have disadvantaged… and impoverished people in Medicine Hat!! Probably more than anyone wants to admit… and this is why we need organizations like Hope Street operating each week!

So how do you identify an individual or family that would be labelled as disadvantaged or impoverished? 

  • Is there a club they attend?
  • Are they all living in one area of the city? 
  • Is there a way to tell?

 

Hope Street CMC - Identifying Poverty

The Answer is that there is no tried or true way to identify poverty. It has many shapes and forms. Some are obvious but some are almost invisible to most of us in Canada.

As of 2010, 7,360 people in the greater Medicine Hat area were living in poverty, 2,590 of whom were children – representing a 10% poverty rate, and a 16% child poverty rate.  (http://livingwagecanada.ca/files/6113/8539/6936/Medicine-Hat-Report-Mar-4.pdf

These stats might seem dated but I believe the reality is that the numbers have actually increased since 2010. With cost of living increases and the addition of new taxes that do not discriminate between the haves and have-nots in society  have continued to increase these numbers. The price drop of a barrel of oil had a huge impact on jobs for Hatters and we know the increased need in our city put a strain on all the agencies that help those in need. Poverty is occuring all around us in our city. Do you know that?

Hope Street CMC - How Can You Help?

I started writing this article with a different goal in mind. I wanted to express my concern over the label of “Ending Homelessness”.  I actually have been praying and discerning this post for almost 2 months as I came to terms with the message I wanted to share. I do want to say a HUGE Thank You to those people and organizations that have done so  much work in helping those who were considered homeless. Good Job Medicine Hat!  But let’s just not forget that there is still a huge need for compassion in our city. There are still many organizations that have feet on the ground and are helping impoverished or disadvantaged people.  There are still many ways you , the reader of this, can help!

  • Volunteer
  • Donate
  • Find a way to make a difference in your community
  • Open your eyes to see
  • Reach out in LOVE…

Hope Street is one organization that would love to see you get involved with us and our goal of Increased Potential Through Breaking Cycles of Poverty. There are many organization in our city that could also use your help. All you have to do is open your eyes and look… Be Blessed!

Murray Kumm is the Executive Director of Hope Street CMC

 

Hope Street CMC - Reality for us in Medicine Hat today!

It Broke My Heart

It is Sunday, February 25, 2018. We had just finished our 4th Annual Coldest Night of the Year Event in Downtown Medicine Hat the night before on Saturday, February 24. The volunteers were all a bit tired and every one of us was there because we have a distinct call to serve Medicine Hat and the Guests of Hope Street CMC. It was a quieter Sunday for us, the last weekend of the month is usually quiet and we see a smaller crowd than usual. We offered our regular meal of hearty soup, tuna buns, salad and veggies, desserts of many kinds, coffee and juice. Everything was pretty normal for us at Hope Street and the meal ended with the normal cleaning of the gymnasium and kitchen at St Barnabas Anglican Church. and then it happened… and it broke my heart!!

The Coldest Night Event was held in 121 location across Canada and is a family friendly, walking fundraising event to supports various local charities that serve the Hungry, Homeless and Hurting in their cities. This day, was a normal day in almost every aspect but one! and that one difference broke my heart!!

Hope Street CMC - Coldest Night of the Year

As we were preparing to leave, one of our volunteers informed me that we had a guests who was laying down outside sleeping on the cold concrete. The first thing I thought was that the guest had fallen down or had been involved in an altercation.

“I feel the need to break in here and point out that the photo above is a stock photo used to represent the event. The identification of our guest is being protected as we do not want anyone to jump to conclusions. The gender, ethnicity, age, colour or any other feature of our guests is of no concern to us at Hope Street CMC as we treat every Guests with dignity and respect.”

Hope Street CMC - Dignity and Respect

We went outside and tried to awaken our Guest. They opened thier eyes and we asked some key questions… Did you fall down? Were you assaulted? Are you okay? The Guest gave me a thumbs up and a fist-bump to indicate they were okay. That then left us to face a crisis decision that had to be made.

What do we do next? Can we just walk away and trust that the individual would be okay? After just a couple minutes of thought we knew what we had to do, call 911!  The call was made, details were given and we were informed that the police would arrive shortly. I waited for the police and after a brief conversation with one of the officers, I was assured that they knew this Guest of ours and that they would take care of the situation. I left knowing that this Guest would not be missed or forgotten and that they should be okay. 

So you might be asking, “Why the broken Heart?” I don’t know if I have an honest answer for you. I have not been afraid to cry in the years since I have become a christian. In fact, tears are a regular part of my life now. BUT this situation tore at my heart in a way I have not felt in a long time. I think I felt the utter loss of hope that I saw in a guest who just laid outside on the cold ground. Did I mention they were wearing blue jeans, a hoodie and a light jacket? Definately not dressed for a winters day let alone dressed to be sleeping outside on the concrete. It reminded me of scenes I have seen in countless articles and news broadcasts of larger cities and their struggle to take care of the disadvantaged people in their midst.

What I think affected me the most in this situation is that just 20 hours earlier, 150+ people walked 2, 5 or 10km in a fundraising event in the very downtown area of Medicine Hat were this guest chose to sleep. As we participated, we all embraced the motto that we are walking because it’s cold out here! I sometimes wonder to myself if Hope Street CMC is really making that big of a difference in the lives of our Guests? That is a personal question that I have always asked myself whenever I have been involved in any kind of ministry or action. Is this really needed? The answer, at least for me, Is YES… Hope Street CMC made a difference in the lives of at least one Guest in particular today that went beyond just feeding hungry people. The volunteers were all concerned about our Guest and the texts and calls didn’t stop until we all knew our Guest was okay. The incident ended up with EMT being called by the Medicine Hat Police Officers who arrived to answer our 911 call. I am not sure what is next for this guest but I know the story does not end with a newscast tomorrow morning of another person freezing to death in downtown Medicine Hat!

So if I had any more questions about if we are necessary, they have been answered. Hope Street CMC is a Vital Ministry in downtown Medicine Hat. Our incredible group of volunteers who show so much care and compassion for each one of our Guests will continue to do that with excellence every time they serve. We will continue to offer Hope in every instance and reach out with a helping hand in all the ways we can. This is what makes Hope Street CMC real, this is what makes us crucial and this is what allows us to continue to offer Hope 4 Today and Hope 4 Tomorrow!

How Can You Help?

There are various ways you can help at Hope Street CMC. You can make a donation and become a volunteer. You can become a supporter. You can join the Hope 4 Today team and become a monthly donor. You can become a prayer partner. OR you can just share the news of what Hope Street CMC does on social media, in posts, in conversation. Just select one or more of the buttons below to join us in our Vision: Realized Potential Through Breaking Cycles of Poverty.

Be Blessed,

Murray Kumm, Executive Director

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