In 2012, I had the opportunity to hang out with some women who were trying to clean their lives up. Most were prostitutes, all were addicts. Most were moms who desperately wanted to get their kids back. They lived just off 20th street here in Saskatoon. Most of you don’t know what that means, but it’s the ‘hood. The place most people avoid. The place most people don’t even really think about. Unfortunately, stuff happened and the houses they lived in closed. I was angry and I was sad, because of how things went down, but there was nothing I could do about it.
I got an email from my friend Lisa a couple weeks back saying that there was going to be a barbeque hosted down on 20th every Thursday. A free barbeque. And she was looking for volunteers. I didn’t even hesitate, I told her I’d jump on board. My first thought was that I hoped I’d see some of the girls I’d met and hung out with last year. I wanted to know how they were doing, and if they were okay. And, you know, still alive. A few of them have AIDS, and one of them wasn’t doing too hot the last time I saw her.
Tonight was the first barbeque. I didn’t see any of the girls, but I did see a whole host of other people. A few of the guys who came by were flabbergasted that someone would do such a thing as a free barbeque. “You bring peace to this place by doing this,” one said. “We really appreciate it.”
“Every Thursday!” I told him.
More than once (or twice, or three times) someone said, “This is the first thing I’ve eaten all day!” Lots of people came through wanting extras to take back to their kids and/or families. I have no idea how many people we served, but it was steady for about an hour and a half, until we ran out of food and shut down.
I know it’s something small, feeding people one meal a week, but I love the look on their faces when they realize someone cares. A bunch of someones care.
Since moving to Saskatoon, my eyes have been opened like never before to the least of these. There are 250 known under-age prostitutes in Saskatoon. Two hundred and fifty. That they know of. There are kids who don’t eat for days. There are women and children who are trafficked. There are families who live through addiction and abuse, generation after generation.
I love that I have the opportunity to show some of these people that someone cares, and I always wish I could do more. I saw a girl working her corner on my drive to the barbeque and I wanted to stop and pick her up and take her with me. But, you know, I figured that would look a bit shady, the whole me-pulling-up-to-a-prostitute thing. But next time maybe I’ll bring her a burger. And tell her that someone cares about her.
I had kind of a crappy day, but I’d been looking forward to this evening all week. I’m thankful I get to be a part of it. And I’m already looking forward to next Thursday.