"Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of 'touching' a man's heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it." --G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Hope for the homeless in our community

Photo from HopeForFreedom.org
Coquitlam Council voted unanimously last night to approve a temporary-use permit to allow Eagle Ridge Bible Fellowship to join the rotation of Tri-Cities-area churches that are relaunching the cold/wet-weather mat program for the next two years--until Coquitlam's permanent shelter at 3030 Gordon opens. This good news was capped by some great news from my Council colleague, Brent Asmundsen.

First, some background: Following several successful seasons, from 2007-2011, of providing emergency shelter to the homeless, the temporary emergency-shelter program changed in 2011-2012, moving from the model of monthly rotations between churches to one in which it was based in just one church, the Grace Campus of Northside Church in Port Coquitlam.

But for reasons that have still not been fully explained, Port Coquitlam council voted last summer to deny Northside the right to continue this year, thus threatening to kill the entire program.

Happily, however, the Hope for Freedom Society was able to organize a new schedule of monthly rotations through other churches in the three Tri-Cities communities. The last "i" to be dotted was Coquitlam's approval of the temporary-use permit for Eagle Ridge Bible Fellowship.

But one other consideration remained: some sort of bus was needed to collect the homeless and deliver them to the emergency shelters at night and, of equal importance to local residents who didn't want indigents hanging around their neighbourhoods, taking the shelter-users back to their normal haunts in the morning.

And that's where Asmundson quietly sprung into action. Working behind the scenes, he not only obtained an out-of-service shuttle bus from Translink, but he also raised $22,800 from several local developers to cover operational costs for at least this year. Asmundson had made no public announcement of this act of community leadership, but Mayor Richard Stewart asked him last night to tell the public what he had done.

And so, his voice cracking with emotion at times, he told the story to the public last night. The audience applause was spontaneous and their admiration genuine. My congratulations to Brent and to all involved in this truly charitable enterprise.

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