By Granny Molly
A meeting took place in Barrie on Wednesday, August 8, concerning the establishment of a location that would provide a number of different services to the disadvantaged members of our community “Under One Roof”. The meeting was organized to enable public input to the proposal. I attended, recalling that we Grannies had talked for many moons about doing something for the homeless in Barrie, but as yet had done nothing more than talk.
As I sat there, I had the weirdest feeling I had been swept backward in some kind of Time Machine. I had heard all these protests before! “We don’t want these people living in our neighbourhood. Our homes will be devalued. Our insurance costs will increase. The crime rate in the area will rise, and how can we be sure our children will be safe?”
These same objections had been trotted out when, some years ago, I was involved in trying to help establish in our community, homes that would house people with developmental delays, who had lived in institutions for most of their lives. Now, for the second time in my life I found myself wondering how the good citizens of Barrie could be such experts in their forecasts, when none of them had ever before lived near such a concept, because none had existed!
My feelings were so overwhelming that almost unconciously, my hand shot up to draw the attention of the meeting’s facilitator, Councillor Nuttall. It so happened, I would be the last speaker of the evening. I shared my realisations about the commonality of the protests, and the same sense of fear in the room that I could just about taste. With great self control I refrained from saying I sensed the same degree of ignorance! I told them that all those years ago, we eventually were able to obtain a house.
Before it was occupied, our Executive Director had been visiting the house when a neighbour approached him and punched him in the face! At that point a decision was made. Nobody would be moved into that house until we had a greater assurance that these people would not attack their new neighbours.
I also suggested that none of us has a crystal ball. None of us in that room knew our future. Was there any guarantee that, at some, time, my own circumstances might not change from the homeownership I had heard spoken of with pride so many times that evening? I said I felt quite sure that should such an eventuality happen to me, I would be very glad there would be somewhere in my community where I could go to for help.
Time was of the essence, so I refrained from suggesting that perhaps this new facility might one day be the last resort for our own children or grandchildren. I just wanted to make the point that I doubted anyone using such facilities does so from choice, but simply because their choices have run out.
I was amazed to receive great applause. After the meeting, a stream of people came to thank me for my contribution and to give me warm hugs. I noticed one person who turned round and mouthed “we would look after you”! When the Executive Director of The Busby Centre, Sarah Peddle, gave me a hug and thanked me, I told her I had really come to see how the Barrie And District Raging Grannies could help in her fight.
Now, Grannies, it’s time to tighten our apron strings and prepare ourselves to do more than talk.