Homeless people have dreams and goals. Did we know that, those of us who pass them by the street with a look of contempt for their sorry status?
If we ever stopped to talk to someone who lives outside our comfortable world, we may find out they want inside our lives. They are not happy with their circumstances that have put them on the street or at best couch surfing from home to home.
They may not have a plan yet on how to achieve their goals, but they still have them. There is also a concerted effort taking place in Kamloops to find ways to assist the poor, the drug addicted, the abused and the hopeless to find hope.
Friday, agencies eager to end homelessness in the city conducted the annual homeless count. The number may be more or less than last year. But it will not be zero or even 20 or 50. This winter, there will be people with no shelter on nights when everyone should be inside.
None of those souls want to be freezing on a riverbank throughout a long, harsh night. Fortunately, churches, social agencies and kind-hearted citizens will step forward to ensure supper, a warm room to sleep in and breakfast is available when the temperatures drop below minus 10.
But what about the other nights? Those are the nights the Kamloops Homelessness Action Plan is addressing with its five-year strategy to end homelessness. The plan unveiled this fall is comprehensive in identifying the various types of homelessness - chronic, one-time, episodic, at risk, hidden and absolute.
It reveals the causes of homelessness, the costs, possible solutions from the homeless person's perspective and strategies from the community on how to help. It's a complete evaluation - years in the making - of the local situation, backed with definitive objectives for addressing the problem.
But the most compelling part of the document was the words from the homeless people themselves where they were asked their hopes and dreams. They said:
p Settle down, become maybe a wife. Own my own cabin and spending a lot of time with my family.
p When I was homeless I was drinking almost every day all day, so I had no goals or plans for a future. I was emotionally distraught and in great despair.
p See my grandkids when I get my settlement. Get detoxed."
p A warm place to sleep. Safety from harm.
p Get married, "white picket fence,? find a partner, work on relationships.
p Win the lotto, like to see my health improve.
p To abstain from using or abusing myself and others."
p To have my children home and get a career.
p Go back to school. Stay clean and sober. Be in a stable, healthy relationship.
p Stay healthy. Live long and prosper.
p To get a job.
p To have the foundation things I need in my life. To be as successful as I can.
p To be self-sufficient. To feel like living with purpose.
p To get a job.
So when you walk by that person on the street you might consider to be nothing more than a bum, remember he or she too has hopes and dreams.
Through the Homeless Action Plan, its leadership council and committed residents of Kamloops, that dream to end homeless may come true. What a statement that would be for this city.