It’s clear and cold outside as we walk along the trails near the sub-station in Port Coquitlam. Snow still blankets the ground as this winter has provided more than the usual amounts in the region. What myself and my partners are doing is searching this particular area for homeless camps as this is a popular area. Last summer there were at least 4 active camps at one time. The location is chosen as access can be a little difficult at times, especially when it rains. This tends to keep trail walkers away and most importantly the By-Law officers. The first camp that we came across was mostly cleared out with just the remnants of occupancy. Old clothes frozen to the ground, litter here and there, and it was obvious it had been abandoned for some time. One thing the snow does is weigh everything down, so travelling the trails was at times, slow. On our way to what looked like a large active camp we noticed a person sitting on a log. When we reached him, he was stone cold silent. It turns out that the camp had been abandoned for some time and the site was a sight to be seen. Snow covered shopping carts loaded with clothes, computer parts along with tarps hung at half mast in the trees stretched out for at least 50’. The lone young man seemed to be off in another time and space as he didn’t talk to us, however he did take a card. We introduced ourselves and explained our purpose before we left and once back at our van we shared a moment of reflection and prayer for the young man. A few days passed with no word or contact from him but to our surprise he had been phoning into the recovery house as is the procedure for acceptance. Then on the morning of Jan 25th I arrived at the office and low and behold here was the same man that was sitting not 10 days ago freezing, hungry, lost in his own thoughts sitting at the table upstairs having breakfast. It is now February 25th and the transformation has been remarkable. The young man has settled in very nicely and has been reunited with his family as so many do when they decide to give recovery a chance to work. It’s hard to put into words the feeling I get when I witness an individual grow in recovery and life. Sometimes all we need to do is plant a seed and something a lot more powerful than me makes it grow and prosper.
by Darren Charuk