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July 13, 2013

What about Crowd-funding to Change Homelessness?

What’s the right thing to do when you are acquainted with someone who finds himself living in a tent at almost sixty years of age? Do you invite him to come to live with you knowing that’s not what you want and it wouldn't work for him either? Do you help him try to solve his housing problem? Do you give him money? Do you know that giving him money, when he is without employment, isn’t going to fix what led him down the treacherous path.
He moved to Salt Spring in 2005 or 2006. He worked at a variety of places before he remained with an employer and worked consistently for about three years. He didn’t make much money. He lived on a boat. He became very depressed. Mentally and emotionally, he couldn’t return to that job. In a very long story, mostly related to depression and his way of being, he lost the boat he lived on. He then managed to find a rental for $400 per month. He was receiving EI and that ended. He was evicted. He was given a two-person tent and has now set that up on a wooded property offered through the empathy of a young couple in the community. His TV set is now situated beside the campfire.

There's a new site called ShareSpring that describes itself as community crowd funding for Business, Organizations and Personal Causes. The giving is dedicated to the Salt Spring community and projects and people that live there. As it says on the website, ShareSpring is a project of Virtuous Circle Social Venture Corporation, a company incorporated in British Columbia, and owned by Michael Contardi, a Salt Spring resident. Ky Fox provides video and video editing support.

Most recently, the community stepped up through ShareSpring when Kilaya Singh, a three-year old girl, was killed during a tragic car accident on the Fulford-Ganges Road. Sharespring sprang into action and the community, near and far, raised funds for her family and for the driver of the van involved in the crash. It would have been easy to say, well, one or both people were driving at inappropriate speeds for the road conditions, and then, to do nothing. Instead, there was an outpouring of compassion and dollars.

There’s a new restaurant called The Gathering Place. Helping it with start-up was a project. The abattoir which is so vital to those who are raising animals, making it so that the butchering and all that entails of selling meat locally is more economical and feasible is a ShareSpring project. 
The description on the site about what it supports also mentions “personal causes”.

This friend’s current state could be a personal cause. He has lived on Salt Spring for more than seven years. It’s easy to think, well, that’s his problem. He got himself into that situation, he’ll have to figure out how to get himself out. I mean, it’s not like he’s twenty-something.

But, at what point is that distancing just not good enough. It’s too easy. Especially given that something could be done if people came together to help. He could be offered a helping hand to get back on his feet. There’s a place for everyone and the “right place” where he can contribute and continue to live on Salt Spring can surely be found.  

It’s so easy to take the self-righteous road. But when there’s a crisis, regardless of how it came to be, what’s the virtue in judgement? What does that solve for this man? Do you think that this idea is a good one or way off base? I’d be curious to know. What would you suggest?  

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