A Walk in Other’s Shoes is returning to this year’s Week of Action Against Poverty. This challenge is being undertaken by individuals in the community who have interests within the health field. Participants have been asked to attempt to stay within a social assistance benefits’ budget. A single person on Ontario Works would receive $337 monthly for all of their personal needs and $384 for all of their shelter costs. Because participants cannot replicate the housing conditions realistically, shelter costs are not included within this challenge. For the five day challenge, participants will have $11 daily to cover all food and drink, entertainment, some personal supplies and transportation costs. Each day, every participant will be given a challenge card which will reveal an unexpected challenge to be completed before the end of the day.
A Walk in Other’s Shoes is not a competitive challenge. It is a challenge that raises awareness of the hurdles that people living on social assistance face daily. As we within our community develop our own understanding, we can begin to reduce the barriers that they encounter and ultimately increase opportunities for increased prosperity for all. The challenge takes place February 10th-14th, 2018.
I made it through. But there aren't any winners. I can see that living in extremely tight circumstances takes away your options and leaves you powerless. If you are living below the poverty line THERE IS NO WAY you can eat nutritious foods (without the help of others), participate in physical activity for enjoyment (instead of survival), take medications that you need to take, see a doctor or dentist when you have a problem. It is relentless. This is not good for a persons long term health - so many chronic conditions can be prevented, delayed or mitigated if people had enough money to live a healthy life.
I have always tried to mindful of what I have, and what I need. I intend to honour what I have - keep it maintained, cleaned, put away, and ensure there is a purpose for me having it. It is hard not to get caught up in a culture of collecting and having. This is also very bad for our environment. I try to pass on what I no longer use to those who can use it - no sense having 5 jackets in my closet when there are people in need who could use one of them! Maybe try it yourself!
I think the main message this week is that personal connections are invaluable. Personal connections are much more important than money. These are the lifelines. When money is gone, personal connections are what is left. They make you feel happy when you are sad, offer sage advise when you need it, take away pain through humour, and assist you when you need a helping hand. I would like to thank everyone who helped me this past week, followed the blogs, provided comments, offered me words of encouragements and kindness. I would also like recognize and thank the Fellowship Centre, Jubilee Church, Salvation Army, Minto Beststart Hub, Making Kenora Home and other service providers for doing what you do! Be kind, give generously, and be thankful for what you have.
Since I have no money left I can't purchase dish soap which costs $1.99 at the store I stopped at. I found a $0.50 off coupon but this doesn't help me at all.
I called around to some different services and couldn't find any that collect dish soap for families in need. Needless to say - The Salvation Army and the Minto Best Start Hub both offered to give me a smaller amount to get me through until I received my next social assistance payment. THANK GOODNESS FOR THESE ORGANIZATIONS!
My plan B was to see what kind of hand soap I could "borrow" from a public washroom.
Today I accessed food through local food programs.
My money is gone, and I owe someone -$2.34. I still have some food left but I thought that I would go on conservation mode.
For lunch I went to the Kenora Fellowship Centre for their gathering, and received more than food there. An elder said that you need to have three things in life; food, clothing and a roof over your head. This is simple. Sometimes overthinking makes this seem so hard - but its easy.
Another elder said poverty makes us who we are. Once a person is in poverty there is a mountain of things working against them. Poverty can strip away your choices, resources, health and will. It can lead you to make decisions against what you know is legal, loving and healthy. I think poverty is created by the way our society is constructed - so why can't it be un-created? I think it can be.
The main point from todays gathering was that everybody needs help at some point, and they only way to tackle the issue of poverty is to help each other and work together. I can get behind that!
For dinner I was able to help Making Kenora Home serve a delicious pulled pork dinner at the Jubilee Church. Shameless plug for food programs in Kenora here. I think being connected to your community is important and an easy way to do this is to volunteer. Instead of complaining, why not try and be part of the community solution to poverty?
So why are there so many people experiencing poverty and relying on food programs? The results from the 2017 Nutritious Food Basket indicate that there are 3900 people in Northwestern Ontario that are food insecure, 59% of these people receive their income through employment (the working poor). The food programs I attended today take care of our communities daily hunger needs (which are many!!) but really aren't able to deal with the root of the problem. Is it as simple as me not having any money? You know - to get the food, clothing and the roof over my head?
Thank you everyone who helped me out today - especially the Kenora Fellowship Centre, the Jubilee Church, and Making Kenora Home.
My Challenge today: Your glasses are broken. You have an interview that involves a written test. You cannot see the paper. What will you do? As if interviews are not stressful enough - Now I can't see! I would hope that the employer was compliant with AODA Guidelines and I would inform them of my vision issues and ask for a copy of the written test in larger font, or in a different format that would be easier for me to see.
I still need to get my glasses fixed. Thankfully we have a great Optometry Clinic in Kenora. From talking with them, they are able to MacGyver fix most broken glasses temporarily. They can also perform an assessment and submit a request to my case manager for new glasses under my health benefits:
when necessary as a result of a significant change in prescription; or
if the benefit supports the person’s employability or participation requirements.
A prescription is required from an ophthalmologist, optometrist or physician before the cost of the frames and/or lenses may be approved.
Just a side note: The Kenora Optometry Clinic also accepts used glasses, on behalf of the Lions Club. These glasses are refurbished by prison workers in Saskatchewan, and sent overseas for use in third world countries.
I would also stop by LEAP and meet with an Employment Advisor. I would be able to access the internet to look for more job opportunities. As well they can help me with my resume and covering letter, and give me strategies to help me ace my interview!
I have never been on a bus in Kenora - until today.
I took the bus to Keewatin and it was actually very fast and efficient! The bus left at 4:36 and I was at the Keewatin arena by 5:00, so I had an hour to wait before curling started.
The drop in curling fee is $15 per time, and I was unable to find a way to cover that cost. There are many volunteers that do a lot of work to try and reduce the user fees for curling (some may have visited escape room events, serving at social functions, garage and bake sales). Despite their hard work there are still building utilities that need to be paid, and user fees cover those costs. Unfortunately I can't see how a person in poverty would be able to curl, unless they were sponsored by a business or sporting program.
I am planning to attend this event tomorrow at the Kenora Fellowship Centre from 11:30am to 1:00pm. Follow them on facebook to learn about other events that are happening there. Anyone want to come with me? There will be food provided;)
My challenge today: You can't find your winter jacket. It may have been stolen. Try to stay warm for the day.
I will try and stay warm, its not like its -40C outside. Except (SHOCKER) - it is. Needless to say I didn't walk from the Rec Centre this morning like I intended to because I would have frozen.
I was able to swing by the Salvation Army and pick out a great jacket that fit - it was my colour and also very warm. The staff at the Salvation Army are very warm and welcoming and did a great job helping me. They also offered me sweaters and socks for warmth. The jacket cost normally would be $25.00 - still very cheap for a good, warm winter jacket! Because I have blown my budget (see yesterdays post), I was able get the jacket through their voucher program and was given the jacket for free! Thank goodness for this program -a literal life saver in this weather. Right now the Salvation army is in need of mens clothing items (sweaters, pants, boots, jackets), in addition to their usual need for clothing. The also offer food programs and have boxes of food available for those in need.
Will accept: anything that people can wear - shoes, seasonal clothing, new underwear & socks; non-perishable food items; toiletries, toothbrushes and toothpaste, deodorant, pads and tampon; household items
Monetary donations are always welcome (cash or cheque). Charitable receipts available