I met Vince about 4-5 months ago when some concerned city workers called me in to do an assessment. They were tearing down his “camp” and wanted us to help him find some resources. It turns out I had seen him around a few times but had never really got to know him until that day. I did not expect what I found when I arrived. Vince had built with his own two hands what looked like a little cabin! Using whatever materials he could find he had fashioned himself a shack. He even ran extension cords from nearby businesses at night to provide light. Vince and I got to talking and decided on a course of action as he was soon going to lose his beloved shack. I can’t remember exactly why but I know it was not exactly a legal set up, no permits etc. We kept in contact and my partner Darren and I continued to encourage him in his quest to change his lifestyle. A couple weeks later I came by his shack to get pictures before the city tore it down. There he was looking rather distraught tearing it down himself! He said he built it with his own two hands so he should be the one to tear it down. It occurred to me that given the opportunity this man could find a way to improve any aspect of his life physical, emotional, financial etc. while addressing the barriers he faced (addiction being one of them). It is that same spirit of determination that can carry a person from the streets to a new way of life. Not everybody is there yet though, sometimes an individual won’t see their world tumbling down around them. The reality of life on the street is bleak at best so why would any person want to face that? Vince still accesses some of the resources we provide but is back on the street again today. I hope it won’t be for long because I know given the right tools he could build anything. Even a new life.
by Laura Binette