It’s the coldest night so far this year, and I can’t stop thinking about the young homeless man who lives in Elmvale. He used to sleep in the post office at night. Then we got this letter.
Tonight, I chatted with him in the lobby of TD Bank. He looked pretty comfortable lying by the ATM, bundled up in his worn sleeping bag and parka, but I doubt he’ll be there long because the building has cameras.
Every time I see him, I think about how desensitized I was to extreme poverty while living in Toronto. Would I have noticed him, young as he is, if he’d been tucked into some archway at Yonge and Dundas? Probably not.
I also think about the invisibility of poverty in places like Elmvale.
Friends who work in social assistance say north Simcoe County has more than its fair share of challenges — addiction, violence, teen pregnancy and hunger. My mom, a former teacher, would come home with stories of students struggling and failing to break the cycle of poverty.
As I type in my pyjamas — with my partner, my dog/furnace, and my sleepytime tea — I am so grateful for the people and things I have. We are fortunate ones.
I have read this post a few times and I was again struck with my struggle with my comfort with poverty and the evidence of it around me. I know people who desperately try to keep kids fed or simply try to stay warm . I met the young mannin the post office. He was respectful, quiet. I admired him.