It is mixed emotions when I saw the article that Inn from the Cold in Calgary had ended their church based inns. The rationale behind it made sense as with the larger family inns, the more scattered inns became home for singles in need. Unfortunately the singles in needs mental health was becoming more than church based volunteers could deal with in a safe manner.
I get this. It saddens me though because in the early 2000’s I was an overnight volunteer at a community inn and I saw how it transformed the local parish that hosted it. I look on the picture of my wall of my last night volunteering at the Inn, with Sister Josie and myself. A group of volunteers that worked to welcome families and singles in need. Ensured that for that one night even with moving around they felt like they had a home. Whether it was helping kids with homework, listening to the adults, seeing what clothes and food could be provided. Making lunches, cooking breakfast, serving and evening meal. Father Bob the parish priest who volunteered and realized a basic necessity was needed…showers for the families going to work and school so they could feel truly refreshed, calling in a plumber to have them installed and then at Mass requesting open hearts to give to cover the costs.
Hearts opened up to who was our neighbour. Realizing every Calgarian is in this crisis of hopelessness and loneliness together.
Now the closures opens up a new challenge to the hearts of Calgarians. A realization that there is not only a lack of homes that are affordable. BUT there is a lack of homes that are appropriate, ones with the proper supports for those lost in the shadows can come into the light and live fully engaged lives within the community as a whole.
This may seem like an ending, but it is not, what it is is a call out to the city, to neighbours to fully engage and demand proper homes for all our neighbours, so everyone has a safe place to lay their heads and feel welcome and hope.