In the final weeks of May, Judy Graves, an advocate for homeless individuals in Vancouver, retired. Having spent 22 years in the city raising awareness and providing assistance to homeless individuals, Judy had seen a remarkable change in the rates of homelessness in the city. From advocating to city hall to support social housing in the downtown area, to increasing meal programs and educational programs for city inhabitants, the high rates that existed in the 1990s has dramatically increased.
Although no one will be able to fill her shoes, everyone should make small attempts to give back to their local community. Here in Kingston, where homelessness is visible most in the downtown core, there are many initiatives that exist to aid those in need. One of the strongest and most visible that comes to mind is Martha’s Table.
Established in 1977 and located on Princess street, Martha’s table is a community program that seeks to ensure that each individual that attends the kitchen is treated with dignity and respect. Patrons in need of a cooked meal enter the restaurant and pay for meals that cost just $1.00. This allows those who utilize the social welfare services of the kitchen to feel as thought they are anyone else who would attend a restaurant.
The program is supported by community donors through cash donations. Likewise, a large amount of support comes from the donations from local restaurants that deliver fresh foods, and leftover meals. This type of cohesive engagement speaks to the amount of interconnectedness that exists within the downtown core.
There is a strong emphasis on fairness within this social welfare program. Regardless of their identity, everyone in need is welcome to be an environment that is nurturing and welcoming. This helps to ensure that those in lower socio-economic positions will be able to still retain their dignity and self-confidence.
Programs such as they speak to a larger issue of poverty within Kingston. Their mere existence indicates a growing need to create social programs that help individuals break the cycle of poverty. As a close knit city, one must wonder how the city can take much more active role in supporting the most vulnerable communities. Volunteering with local community programs such as Martha’s Table helps connect individuals to their community and give back to the city. Whether it be cooking a meal at Martha’s table or supporting a local charity initiative, everyone has the ability to impact their community like Judy Graves did.
If you are interested in getting involved in initiatives such as Martha’s Table check out their website.
Thanks to Antje for today’s photo.