What difference can one day possibly make?
To the homeless, to the poor, to those who have fallen on hard times, a day can make quite a difference.
That is what Debbie Thomas and Julie Ménard wish to communicate and why the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition is organizing Whitehorse Connects.
Thomas, a coordinator for the event that is in its second year, says, “It makes a difference in the sense that it brings something people don’t have every day … a sense of sharing and community.
“Also, a place where they feel welcome as they are … loved … no questions asked.
“We’re offering them services, entertainment, food and whatever they need that day.”
Whitehorse Connects is about giving what is needed – and then some.
Thomas adds, “It’s also a consciousness-raising event for the whole community.”
Ménard, who is co-chair for the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition, says, “It’s also a way to show the people that there’s poverty.
“Here, because of the cold, we don’t see it,” she says.
Thomas and Ménard hope the event will dispel misconceptions about what poverty is and show people what the real face of poverty looks like.
It’s not always what people think or what they see on the street.
“There’s a tremendous amount of couch-surfing,” Thomas says.
Menard adds, “People living on house-sitting …
“Poverty doesn’t have a face.
“This is a way to put a face to poverty.
“As soon as you do away with the stereotypes.”
The day will offer a lot for those in need.
“Resource people will be there to ‘meet and mingle’,” says Thomas.
And the day, Ménard says, is “for fun … for having a nice meal.”
And for connecting, Thomas says, hoping after the event that some will say, “Oh, hey … now I know so and so when I see them on the street. I know them by name.”
In an almost-tangible sense these two women share that this is about building community, the whole community, businesses included.
There will be professional people, Thomas says, someone “cutting hair all day. We have a physiotherapist-slash-osteopath. We have somebody who will be doing breathing and/or energy work.
“We have a massage therapist, two nurses doing foot care, community law people.”
The event is filled with volunteers, a team effort, with food and financial donations from sponsors.
Thomas and Ménard are also excited about the dedication and generosity of local musicians.
“It’s great that the community musician shares their passion with those that don’t have an opportunity,” Ménard says, adding that she would like to see youth involvement with music, dance and arts.
Singer/songwriter Kevin Barr was asked to perform last year and says, “It makes me feel good to give back.
“It’s people just trying to help people.”
He adds there was a time in his life where he needed help and says, “And people gave it to me.”
The event is all about giving.
Joe Bishop responded to the cause with “Absolutely!” and says he always likes to contribute when he has the opportunity and that it’s “nice to be able to give things back to the community.
“It’s about being able to share the music.”
A host of local musicians will join Barr and Bishop in the event, many who are back for their second time.
Last year, about 200 people attended the event out of which 160 people filled out exit surveys. Thomas says “love” was a word that was mentioned a lot on the surveys.
Whitehorse Connects will be held March 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Old Fire Hall. At 5 p.m. the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition will host a community potluck. Dennis Victor Allen will entertain during the meal.
Thomas and Ménard are inviting everyone to come out and see what a difference a day makes.