Volunteering at the Old Mission Brewery: A Short but Stimulating Experience

by kevingemme on May 15, 2014 - 1:29am

 

For about two months now, I have been writing a lot about homelessness in Canada. In fact, this particular social issue caught my attention at first as it affects hundred of thousands of Canadians every year, and a lot more around the world. Moreover, I felt homelessness was an important issue as it can affect anybody. In fact, anybody can become homeless at one point in his or her life, which I believe makes it a social issue that needs addressing.

 

As I read more and more about news concerning homelessness and wrote more about it, I ended up finding some very interesting information about the subject. To my eyes, the most important and surprising thing I found was a work made by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH). The article entitled “A Plan, Not a Dream: How to End Homelessness in 10 years” came as a shock to me as I did not really believe it was possible to eradicate the issue completely in Canada or in any other country. In sum, the CAEH affirms that in order to effectively end homelessness, we must invest in supportive and affordable housing rather than providing emergency services to itinerants. This to me was very interesting because it was a totally new way of addressing the issue that I had never thought about, as I believed it would simply be to costly to do so. However, this article suggests that it is in fact more expensive to provide emergency services, as it does not keep the homeless out of this unfortunate situation.

 

After writing about the CAEH’s article, I then wrote about another interesting article concerning the Montreal Health and Social Services Agency. The news article was claiming that the agency had decided to not to go on with the first ever “housing first” model introduced in Canada. In fact, the program that was first known as Chez Soi/At Home, was going to be dropped as the Montreal Health and Social Services Agency claimed to not have enough economic resources to keep that program going. Obviously, this article showed me that ending homelessness with affordable housing is not as easy as it seems because it demands a lot of funds in a short period of time.  

  

Therefore, in order to help the homeless and to learn more about the issue and the solutions, I decided to be proactive about the issue and to volunteer for an organization devoted to helping itinerants. When researching for an organization, I quickly found out about the Old Brewery Mission in Montreal. As I have already mentioned in another article, this organization is one of the most renowned in Montreal. In fact, they have been helping the homeless of the city for over a hundred years now and provide many services to itinerants that need it. That is why I chose to volunteer with them for one evening.

 

When asking about the volunteer opportunities, I was invited to come and help during supper hours at the Webster Pavilion (915 Clark Street, Montreal) for only an hour. Although having only a short time, I determined that this experience would still be very beneficial for me to understand better the social issue. One interesting fact is that I ended up volunteering with my sister and cousin. In fact, when I informed them that I was going to volunteer for the cause of homelessness, they both were very enthusiastic about it and immediately asked me if they could join too. I think this is significant because it shows that sometimes it only takes one person to take action in order for others to also be proactive in their community.

 

As this was a first experience for all three of us, we did not know really what to expect at first. However, when we arrived there, we understood that our jobs would be rather straightforward. As we were in charge of the tables where the itinerants would eat, we simply had to set them so they could eat their meal and then take away their plates when they were done. On that particular day, there were not a lot of people that came in, which meant that we did not have too much work to do. However, the experience made me understand an important thing.

 

In fact, during the volunteering, I had the chance to speak to a few people that would help out regularly at the Old Brewery Mission. Many of them told me that they would sometimes receive up to 600 people during some suppers and that the cafeteria was completely packed. This confirmed to me the idea that there are plenty of homeless people in Montreal. Therefore, if we think about affordable housing as a solution to end homelessness as described earlier, it is important not to forget that there are many itinerants in the city and that all of them must be considered when building affordable housing infrastructures. Also, as there are so many homeless people, it made me understand that if we really want to end this social issue, perhaps it could take more time then the 10 years the CAEH suggests to fund and build housing opportunities for every single itinerant of the country.  

 

In conclusion, volunteering at he Old Brewery Mission was a positive experience that allowed me to truly learn more about homelessness. It made me understand the complexity of the problem and the solution. The fact that I incited two people to volunteer with me made me realize that there is a certain interest in volunteering among people, and that it only takes a spark to make them actually take action.

Here is a small presentation that summurizes how my experience to volunteer at the Old Brewery Mission: http://prezi.com/lc9-cld8jum_/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0...

Comments

I find you voluntary work very interesting knowing that homeliness is a very current subject in the news that I have been reading about. I actually always wanted to volunteer to help homeless people in Montreal but wasn’t sure where to go and I’m really happy that you wrote about this organization. Your description of it makes me want to go because it sounds like such a positive and rewarding experience. Also, I find really fun that you went with two members of your family because it makes it even more special.

Homelessness is definitely a problem in our society for which it is possible to see a solution but harder to implement it. I totally agree that the current help system we have in place supports the homeless by allowing them to survive, but not to quit homelessness. A few months ago, I learned about a graduate student in computer science who wanted to do a social experiment with a homeless person. He asked the man to choose between $100 and a low level computer including coding lessons. The person chose to take the computer and came every day to take coding lessons. Following the project the person’s story became very popular and he is now using his skills to improve the world rather than just use it to make money. I think stories like this show that there are ways to get out of homelessness, but that most of them are alternative method not commonly used. I researched the old news to find this story and I joined the following link which shows what this man as achieved since choosing to take a laptop rather than money.
http://planetsave.com/2013/12/16/homeless-man-learns-code-creates-carpoo...

Volunteering for this organization seemed like a great experience for you!! Homelessness is a social issue which needs to be stopped but in order to do that we need people to want to help these individuals, so it’s nice that you put your part in to helping this organization. This links to my volunteering experience that I did for an organization called Moisson Montreal, which provides food to over 50 organizations. Nice post!!

It is quite true that to end homelessness we must provide housing that is cheaper so some of them will be able to afford an apartment or a place to stay. Some say that finding jobs for homeless people is impossible but we should help them maybe by telling where to go or finding positions for them because a lot of people don't hire homeless people because they do not look good or they look weird in their eyes but it is probably because of their homeless status so employers should give them a chance and understand their circumstances

Homelessness has been a problem for a long time and finding solutions convenient for everyone is hard. I believe the best way to solve this matter is getting homeless people a job. That way, they would provide help to communities and get money to afford food and housing. However, in order to give them the chance, housing them and providing them food is necessary for now. Then, when they get a job, it would actually be beneficial to the community after. More importantly, employers should give them a chance, some homeless people are very talented. Judging someone according to his richness is somewhat abnormal. I'm not saying employers should pity people with homelessness and give them more chances, but if a homeless person is qualified for the job, why not give him a chance? For more solutions about solving homelessness, feel free to visit: http://www.upworthy.com/the-completely-obvious-way-to-solve-homelessness-2

Homelessness has been a problem for a long time and finding solutions convenient for everyone is hard. I believe the best way to solve this matter is getting homeless people a job. That way, they would provide help to communities and get money to afford food and housing. However, in order to give them the chance, housing them and providing them food is necessary for now. Then, when they get a job, it would actually be beneficial to the community after. More importantly, employers should give them a chance, some homeless people are very talented. Judging someone according to his richness is somewhat abnormal. I'm not saying employers should pity people with homelessness and give them more chances, but if a homeless person is qualified for the job, why not give him a chance? For more solutions about solving homelessness, feel free to visit: http://www.upworthy.com/the-completely-obvious-way-to-solve-homelessness-2

Great article, very well written. I love how you realized that sometimes all you need is a spark for people to take action and go volunteer. I think this class did exactly that, I mean how many of us have said that we want to volunteer but never have? Whatever the spark may be, it is crucial in youth involvement in cases like these. As for your volunteer at the Old Mission Brewery, I wrote an article at the beginning of the semester mentioning them and I truly believe that what they do is great so thanks to volunteer there! I hope you back, cause you seem like you loved the experience and now that your spark has been lit, you'll be an unstoppable volunteer!

Good job! Homelessness is a real problem that we must address in order to grow as a society. I too have volunteered in a homeless shelter specialized in aboriginal homelessness. You are right it really is stimulating and I hope you continue your initiative.

Wow! I really enjoyed reading your volunteering experience at the Old Mission Brewery. I like that you’ve integrated the links to your news articles and I find that your prezi is a great multimedia element, as it sums up your experience. I commend you on your proactiveness and you definitely incited me to look into this organization, as I do believe that homelessness is a complex societal issue that we have to address.

I think it is a very nice action you did there. Homelessness is probably one of the biggest issues of today’s society and you certainly helped tackle it. When we walk in the streets of Montreal, it is quite sad to think that so many people can hardly eat and do not even have a place to stay. I do a bit of volunteering myself every year for the Club des petits-déjeuners du Québec and I love doing it because I feel like I do something nice for people in need. It feels rewarding. Keep going. Society needs people like you.

I really enjoyed the article you posted. We have the same issues here in Rochester NY. Emergency housing is more costly and people still are chronically homeless even with shelters on the rise. Should housing be a basic human right? I think ideally we would all agree with this.
Although cost is a central issue people are also intolerant to housing first issues, drug denizens and crazy people live there, this can be a common perspective. In many cities clergy has been enlisted to help alleviate tension between property owners and facilities that work with the homeless. Public perception and intolerance for the homeless is slow to change. The idea that everyone has the right to housing is uncomfortable both socially and economically.

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