February can be such a tough month for anyone, especially those dealing with mental health issues, facing poverty, and difficult circumstances.
Recently, I had the privilege to sit in with community service providers to discuss gaps in services for men in the community. During the wintertime, homeless and vagrant populations become even more visible in our small town, as they have nowhere warm to set up camp. Gentlemen have been found hanging out at local coffee shops, sleeping in bank ATM areas, and pushing carts along the streets, getting stuck in the snow.
Although Golden doesn’t have a comprehensive plan for men in desperate need of help at any time of year, and no available place to sleep (like a shelter, or something along those lines), there are a few things available in town to help out those in need, not just men.
Mental health services are available through the Golden Hospital and the Golden Family Center. For immediate help, people may need to check in to the hospital to access care and assessment. In an emergency situation, the community paramedics are trained to help people who are struggling with mental health. If it can wait, there are spaces available at the Family Center, and they offer free drop-in counselling on Wednesdays. The Family Center also offers a program to support men through the East Kootenay Addiction Services. For informal support, but great listening ears, the Lutheran Church has its doors open. They offer support, coffee, soup, and bread, along with some clothing. The Golden Baptist Church also offers informal meetings and coffee for support.
Other groups in town, like the Order of the Eastern Star, have gathered up warm mitts and toques that are available at the Food Bank, which is another great resource for hungry people. The Golden Community Resource Society offers drop in options for leftover food that can be distributed, and the Golden Seniors’ Centre offers grab bags on Mondays. In town, there is a social justice advocate that can help anyone navigate through paperwork and applications for support. The advocate is an empathic person who is available to help anyone that needs a little extra assistance to access government supports. She is located in the Patlar Building, on the same floor as the Golden Family Center.
Since opening its office, the Metis Nation Columbia River Society has become an advocate for people from many walks of life. They have advocated for people in court, and have opened their doors to those seeking warmth during their office hours.
Even though there isn’t a directory, this group of services is working together to see how they might be able to fill the gaps in service for men. They discussed options for an emergency shelter, and building a directory to cover the broad range of services that are available, but might not be common knowledge to those who need it.
Hopefully together we can continue to build on this incredibly resourceful and supportive community. We can band together to ensure everyone lives a safe and comfortable life.