Parksville has discovered that poverty is messy – with undiagnosed mental illness, PTSD, childhood neglect or abuse and life-altering loss – often resulting in anti-social behaviours like substance abuse, begging, hoarding, littering, petty theft, vandalism and selfish narcissism.
Our province provides valuable assistance programs including the distribution of clean needles. Community agencies provide meals, counseling, job training, bus tickets, and supportive recovery programs. Manna Homeless Society fills a niche of compassion without duplicating services – we offer our Care Mobile – a renovated RV that can be set up where people gather and suitable for health practitioners to treat individuals in need.
The city has removed us from Parksville-owned property and has closed the door to health provision many find comfortable to approach. Manna has always cleaned up after our 1.5-hour morning stops. We’ve been able to channel the food donated from a grandmother who remembers what it was like to be a single mom; we’ve handed out clothes from a recently departed loved one, shared blankets and sleeping bags from kids grown and moved away.
Manna has utilized resources purchased by Rotarians, Lions, Kiwanis and women’s clubs. We’ve welcomed all without judgement realizing that God loves, honours, and respects us, even in our dysfunction and we can only try and do the same to our friends on the street.
We’ll find another spot for Saturdays, and I’ll continue my ‘walkabouts’ through the week; encouraging with the generosity of our community.
Rev. Jerrold Paetkau
Operations Manager and Community Chaplain
Manna Homeless Society