September 23rd, 2019

The Mustard Seed brings a solid track record of helping those in poverty

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on September 6, 2019.

gslade@medicinehatnews.com@MHNGillianSlade

The Mustard Seed will soon be operating in Medicine Hat, attending to the needs of those living in poverty.

The organization has a proven track record after decades of service in Calgary and Edmonton. They have identified a need here and are working hard to address that need with compassion and innovative ideas.

They are also operating on donations from the public. They are, not presently anyway, getting a government grant to meet operating expenses.

This community has generously supported The Champion’s Centre and will no doubt step up to the plate for The Mustard Seed.

It is not that many years ago that several organizations were offering food parcels to those in need and there were four or five homeless shelters. Remember Winter’s Inn and In From the Cold?

There was a lot of talk about possible duplication, one agency not knowing what the other was doing and someone perhaps getting two parcels of food. A plan took hold to consolidate and control and be more efficient in the process.

We ended up with one homeless shelter, run very well by The Salvation Army, with a provincial government grant. There are rules and regulations to which they must conform.

There have been conversations about whether The Champion’s Centre and the Oasis Cafe were necessary because the Medicine Hat and District Food Bank also opened a place where people could have coffee.

Perhaps there are questions of efficiency here. Let’s look at the streamlining aspect at a very practical level that we can all relate to. Imagine a government appointed person coming into town and deciding we have far to many supermarkets and it would make sense to have them all under the same umbrella. We could have just three very large supermarkets to cover the city. They would be bigger with a larger range of products. We could save energy, cut down on the number of staff etc.

The problem is they would have a monopoly without any competition.

There are people who think homeless people should be grateful for what they are offered and if they don’t like it they should get a job and rent an apartment.

It is easy to say that when you don’t know the individual circumstances that have resulted in people being where they are at.

Many people who were homeless have been successfully housed. For others the challenge is staying housed and coping with their issues to make that happen. We already know there are plans for the equivalent of a group home to provide a level of support and supervision where that is needed. That is excellent.

The point is there is not one way to go about helping those in need because each case is different.

The Champion’s Centre and Oasis Cafe have been sought out by many in need because they like that environment, they like what is offered and it is meeting their needs.

The Mustard Seed will fill a number of roles by amalgamating these under its umbrella and then adding other services. Their approach is slightly different based on the area they will operate in.

The fact that they are operating on donations also speaks volumes in terms of the needs they are meeting and supporters’ perception and appreciation of that service.

If all agencies depend on government grants there is a different set of data they need in order to prove their worth and that may not always reflect the perception of those using the service.

Competition, even when it comes to services for those in need, can only improve the experience for the clients.

(Gillian Slade is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to https://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions, email her at gslade@medicinehatnews.com or call her at 403-528-8635.)

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