September 16,2022


I want to share with you some recent “snapshots” of the community through our lens here at The Village. One of the aspects of advocacy is to understand, with humanity and compassion, the struggles of our people and give voice to their experiences, in hopes both of fostering support and also affecting public policy changes.

In the past 14 days, we have had 350 patrons “purchasing” your donated items with their 20 points and 70 people accessing food from our food pantry. These numbers do not include the folks who just come in to browse or be present, only the community members who receive items or food.

We have had a Choices for Change team member on site on Tuesdays, for folks to chat with if they feel to, in a familiar and comfortable space. Consistent visibility within the community, of resources to support those navigating substance use, is very important. The dialogue around substance dependency in our communities needs to change.

We are seeing a large uptick in migrant workers, accessing clothing, footwear, outerwear and basic household items and food. We are grateful to provide a space where these community members can feel supported and welcomed.

We are seeing more kids coming in to “purchase” clothing for themselves. I feel deeply moved when I see this, both so pleased that kids know they can come and shop for clothes for themselves and also a bit of a sadness in understanding how poverty affects our community’s kids in so many ways. It does something to us when we see a kiddo or teen find sweet shoes or hoodies etc, that would be otherwise out of reach for so many.

A community member came in recently and expressed they had just been laid off. Someone told them to come to The Village because they were broke and needed some food and their footwear was in really bad condition. We didn’t have any foot wear that fit and so we assisted with one of the Walmart cards you have donated, for a small denomination, so he could get shoes. We discussed other food bank resources in the community and they had already been for this month. They took food from the pantry and the gift card for shoes and we encouraged them to come again. This is an increasingly common scenario. Many people cannot stay one step ahead of a crisis in our communities, even if that crisis is buying footwear, needing some food or being laid off..

I had a visit in my office from a longtime community member who lives with domestic violence, substance dependency/management and gets up to live another day, every day. They see how important the word “inclusion” is in the work to help people be strong and healthy in our communities. I am grateful for our talks. We discussed their concern for some women in our community, who may be exploited because of addiction and vulnerability and even potentially trafficked. As they spoke I listened, grateful for their strength to keep watch of our most vulnerable. These situations are not uncommon. And people exploiting others is most certainly not a big city problem. Keeping dialogues non judgmental and open and spaces safe to share concerns is so important.

Our Community Access Market is seeing many community members come and get fresh produce and/or just sit and be present. Recently we tallied about 40 people on one Saturday. Many folks are generous and give a little extra when paying, to purchase a $5 button, which someone else can then use as payment. We have had many great conversations about things like how to make stew or a pot of soup, what leeks are used for, things people use cabbage for and how jalapeno peppers have bite!

We have more dads coming in for diapers and formula. We are grateful they come in and get supplies, as we know it is one less thing to stress about.

I hope this helps to offering some glimpses as to some of the experiences our community members are navigating. Poverty and mental health are such huge weights for folks and affect almost every facet of one’s well being. Age notwithstanding.

Take good care of eachother, friends
Andrea Charest

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