Two Homeless Man Got Home In Southern Alberta
LETHBRIDGE-Monday was a moving day for Richard Woslyng and his friend Lou, who took possession of their own apartments after spending months at the Lethbridge Stabilization Center and the shelter.
“It feels good to have keys opening a door again,” said Woslyng, who had been living in a shelter since late January, after living in a tent in the river valley.
“I showed up at the shelter when he turned 30-down. It was too cold.”
Woslyng wasn’t sure how-or if-he could leave the shelter, as he never had enough money to pay a security deposit and cover the first month’s rent, which is required by most homeowners.
But things started after Woslyng took part in an art program at Lethbridge Soup Kitchen, called Resilient Art YQL.
Founder Tannis Chartier started the program as a way to create a positive environment for people who find themselves in a negative situation, like Woslyng and Lou, who asked that his last name not be used.
“There is a sense of Hope. It’s somewhere to hang out and stop being on the street, ” Chartier said.
Woslyng will tell you that he is not an artist, but some of his scribbles were presented with Lou’s drawings in a coloring book.
Chartier ordered to print 400 copies of the book and all but a handful were sold.
The men used the income to pay the security deposit for small bachelor suites and cover their rent until February.
Chartier said it was more than she had ever dreamed of.
“It’s crazy that something that was just a small idea, maybe getting a little more money to buy winter clothes from these guys, was turned into apartments, ” he said.
Lou said he has been “trapped”in the shelter since Aug. He said finally having his own space is a great relief.
“It was hard to be there, especially for someone like me who has no addiction,” Lou said.
Men say an apartment means you no longer need to carry your belongings in a backpack and can go home anytime without waiting to enter or be searched.
Woslyng says this means he can lie down without being told where to lie down.
For Lou, this means that he does not need to sleep on his boots, which he often did in the shelter to prevent them from being stolen at night.
“I sat there and thought: What am I doing? Where am I going? How to get away from the road? Now I’m here,” he says.
Chartier says it wouldn’t have been done without the support of many people, including volunteers from Lethbridge Soup Kitchen, who helped with the arts program and the hundreds of people who bought it.
Her parents were also of great help in delivering the coloring books, and The Mission Thrift Store in Lethbridge donated furniture for the apartments.
“It’s kind of like a Christmas miracle,” Chartier said.