Monday, January 15, 2007

Mind The Gap

Everyday on the drive to the office we pass a corner of Vancouver where men stand around all morning, waiting and hoping to be picked-up for construction work. They arrive early in the morning and stand around for hours in the freezing cold, hoping that a contractor picks them out from a field of scores of other men.

These are men who are trying to make a living, many of whom trying to support families.
I can't imagine the frustration of standing around all morning in the freezing cold, hoping to be picked, and then returning home facing a mountain of bills and a family to feed without the ability to do anything about it.

One of the most common complaints about funding programs for the homeless is the age old "they lack work ethic," "get a job," make an effort." While I know better, I nevertheless understand and can empathize with the emotion that drives that sentiment in many of us.

But here's this group of people who are genuinely trying and struggling to provide for themselves and their families.

But I suspect that this group of men (and groups like them) are almost totally over-looked by society. The people that are on the "fringes of poverty" need our care, compassion and assistance.

I'm thinking about a small group of friends and colleagues to deliver coffee and donuts to this group of guys on a particularly cold day this week. It's not a hand-out. It's just an act of saying "Hey, I recognize that it's freezing out, and I hope this makes waiting around a little more enjoyable."

The gap between the "obvious poor" and the "fringes of poverty" is narrow but while the former can be clearly seen, those living on the fringes are not obvious until they have already fallen. If forced to choose, what would you invest it? Preventing the fall or trying to pick-up the fallen?

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