Since Thursday’s edition of The NEWS was published with the article ‘Does city do enough?’ on its front page, I have received at least a dozen calls from residents of Parksville appalled at the callous comments made by city councillors at the last council meeting.
First, I want to correct the perception that Manna only required $5,000 to overcome its recent crisis. In fact, $5,000 was requested from all three local municipalities in order to provide us with enough funds for groceries to last through to the end of difficult weather and only two municipalities responded positively.
We are very grateful to Qualicum Beach and Regional District of Nanaimo for stepping up as we were about to move into the winter season without resources to continue to provide food for the homeless.
In 2016, Manna spent almost every donated dollar (almost $40,000) on food supplies, many of our volunteers finding themselves reaching into their own pockets on occasion to meet the need.
Secondly, let me say I was saddened to hear the response from Coun. Kirk Oates regarding the fact that no Manna representative was in the audience to speak to the issue at the council meeting last week. Manna was not notified that our letter was to be presented at this meeting. Had I known, despite a recent illness and incapacity, I would have managed to get myself there, along with other Manna board members, to discuss just how challenging it has been over the past several months.
Manna can provide food and clothing, a handshake, encouragement and kindness, but these things are not a solution to the problem of homelessness. Talking about homelessness, studying it and measuring the numbers is not a solution either. The only way we can begin to solve this problem is to house these people. Once they are housed, a variety of social and medical supports can then be put in place to sort things out.
Robin Campbell, president,
Manna Homeless Society