Signing up for the Gym

In the years I have worked with my Warming Room friends it has never ceased to amaze me how difficult life is for people living on the fringe of society. Things we take for granted are a constant struggle. Many struggling with homelessness, mental illness and addiction have no fixed address, no phone and often times no ID. The only way to make contact is to physically go out and find them on the street. This is why it’s so difficult to put a number on the homeless.

Recently I had the privilege to help a young fellow out with a simple thing- getting a gym membership. He is a very kinaesthetic guy maybe even hyper some would say. A gym membership was a perfect solution for him. He could spend time bettering himself physically and make some friends who are health focused.

So we went to the gym and of course the price was prohibitive, especially when you are trying to squeak by with a $300 a month street allowance. But, a glimmer of hope! He could fill out a form for a partially subsidized membership! Homeless people hate forms. We took the form filled it in but they needed proof of income. Back downtown to social services! 2 days later the we got the required proof. Back to the gym to find out he was subsidized 50%, so only $28.50 a month. Nearly 10% of his income but he was determined! So we tried to sign up. Oh no not another form. Cash payment was not an option, only credit card or automated withdrawal. Homeless people often do not have bank accounts and even more rarely a credit card. We left so disappointed but then a flash!  A prepaid Credit Card! Just load $28.50 a month. Presto a solution! Back downtown to buy a prepaid card. Almost there. The next day with $30 in hand we went to a Payday Loan store to get the card only to find out that the card costs a $12.95 fee- every month! No way could it really be? We have a $12.95 fee just to pay $28.50. Almost completely discouraged we lay down $12.95 and decide we will do it, after all we did get the membership at half price. Then the dreaded F word… another Form! Before getting the card we needed a drivers licence or an Ontario Photo Card. Ok, a final hurdle we are going to do this! Off to Service Ontario. Stand in line to get the card only to find the card costs $35 and you need a birth certificate. This was the last straw. He crumbled.

He did finally get a membership but I nearly lost it. This is just the simplest of things. Trying to get housing or navigate our criminal Justice system can be far worse. I only share thing story so we might provide grace to these folks. Things we can do in a minute online or by a call can become a mountain when you are struggling with just getting by.

-Paul Hogle

Warming Room is Moving on December 1st!

Hi all,

we wanted to make sure you know that Warming Room is moving back to Murray Street Baptist Church at 175 Murray St. on December 1st. Our hours will shift – we will be open from 930 PM to 9 AM. Our phone number will remain the same : 705 775 9276. Reach us there during open hours.

Thoughts As Warming Room Closes

I finished up my final shift of the season at the Warming Room. I have mixed feelings. On the one hand I’m ready for a rest. On the other hand I’m concerned about my friends who a heading for the streets, it’s been a cold wet few months. The lucky ones will find housing but for the most part these folks are destined for the street. Some will get a tent, the rest a blanket, a ground sheet and our best wishes. In the news I see we’ve had multiple stabbings as of late. These streets are not the place for our most vulnerable. I read the paper, we hold meetings and town halls on homelessness and poverty reduction and right across the page others advocate seeking $4 million for a new Canoe Museum. A good cause I’m sure, but how do we prioritize our homeless, the addicted and those with Mental Heath issues? Those who understand ask for a mere pittance in comparison to millions for some of these big projects. A homeless friend just told me the city came to his camp site, (yes he was a squatting) and gave them a few minutes to pack up and move along. I don’t get it. We have no money to keep the shelter open so we kick people out. What are they supposed to do? Where are they supposed to go? The cities evictors gave no answer to that, just somewhere else. No wonder these folks become desperate. Desperate people do desperate things. Yes, a few will end up in jail. I know that some in power would rather these folks just disappear but these people are us! A friend just said the other day, most of us are two bad weeks away from homelessness. How is it we prioritize building new parks, museums and libraries but do not care for our people? Gandhi once said, “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members”.

It costs but a fraction to support and house people compared to the millions to incarcerate and hospitalize these folks. What will have to happen before those with the power open their eyes? In the mean time I will continue to serve and do what I can to advocate for those who can’t for themselves.

Paul Hogle

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ORCD

Opening Soon: Outreach Community Health Clinic!

Starting Monday, May 29, One Roof and VON 360 Degree Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic will partner to provide a weekly clinic at One Roof (Mondays from 1:00 to 2:30, not including statutory holidays). The clinic will provide free nurse-practitioner-led medical care to our guests on a first-come, first-served basis. We will have specific and dedicated volunteers who will work directly with the nurse practitioners and social workers to provide this service. Whether or not they have a health card or a family doctor. Whether or not they are registered as patients at VON. We’re excited to add this program to One Roof. If you have questions, feel free to get in touch at casey@warmingroom.ca. Or visit us at www.warmingroom.ca/oneroof.

ID Bank Open at One Roof!

One Roof now runs an ID Bank, open to anyone looking for a safe, accessible place to store their ID. We are open 7 days a week, 12 to 7 PM, at 99 Brock St. Call us at 705-874-1812 or send us an email at casey@warmingroom.ca for more info, or just stop in!