Falling through the cracks — the innocent victims of futility

Elizabeth Dye is a strong-willed woman — whose sense of pride and work ethic prompted her to write this corner to urge the time has come to stop judging and start helping others.
She speaks not of herself, in spite of the fact she has had to “downgrade everything,” but instead for those she notes, “who don’t fit into the neat little categories society sets out as the norm.”
Those neither sick enough to be hospitalized nor healthy enough to function effectively in our society.
“They are cast aside and fall through the cracks,” she advises. “In short their family, friends and advocates just fade away when they realize the futility of the fight.”
The RPN, off work for two years dealing with her own emotional issues, wishes to draw attention to the pitiful sum handed out monthly via the Ontario Disability Support Program.
Especially in light of the fact, whether physically or psychologically unable to work, no one sets out to be in this position.

The maximum allowed to a single person is $1,020 per month, less if they are in subsidized housing.
All right, let’s break down the expenses.
An average of $600 per month rent for a one-bedroom apartment (utilities included). Knock that down to $500 to reside in a rooming house if you don’t mind sharing bathrooms and kitchens with strangers.
Getting around St. Thomas by bus will cost you $2.50 per ride and so five round trips each month for shopping and appointments sets you back $25 ($5 less if you purchase a strip of tickets).
Toss in a minimum of $18 for the phone bill and basic cable at $24, the only entertainment affordable, advises Dye.
Average in about $50 per month for clothing (try this when winter sets in) and $300 for the monthly food tab, although as she points out, can you still eat nutritionally?
However, if you have a special diet, a monthly supplement is provided.
“My friend with pancreatitis gets $40 per month. Laughable.”
If you’ve been adding up the amounts, you now realize there is too much month at the end of the money.
No Internet, no social life, no hobbies.
“Slowly they lose their social networks and ultimately their lives get worse. They are ostracized and slide further downward. Try keeping friends and family when you can’t join them for a coffee or go to a wedding or baby shower. Gifts are a luxury.”
Sobering food for thought.
“These are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers. They have done nothing to deserve their status. What they do deserve is to feel like people again.”
Elizabeth Dye will get back on her feet again, how many others are destined to spiral downward?
We haven’t even experienced hot, muggy weather to blame this on, but city police have their hands full dealing with incidents across the criminal spectrum ranging from attempted murder to break-ins and collering paint-toting graffiti artists.
All of this is depressing enough, however, what is most alarming are the senseless acts of vandalism that have plagued St. Thomas over the past month.
Lobbing rocks through windows at the CASO station and lopping the head off the Matt Mailing memorial statue in Pinafore Park is truly pathetic.
What possible satisfaction do the louts who undertake these mindless acts of destruction gain in light of the frustration and pain felt by those most affected?
Are we expected to write this vandalism off as the byproduct of plant closures and associated layoffs?
Or have we lost all regard whatsoever for the property and possessions of others?
As a result, have we reached the sad state of affairs whereby drastic measures, as suggested by Al Hughson, Memory Garden Foundation director, need to be instituted?
“We were wondering about putting a curfew in place at the park,” noted Hughson.
“We’ve got a problem in the city with vandalism … It’s sad that nobody seems to notice it.”
Not as sad as when acts of vandalism are addressed with nothing but apathy.
It’s not the recognition St. Thomas should be proud of, however, due to its dismal dereliction of duty in the demise of Alma, the city has become a benchmark of sorts in heritage matters.
Ridgetown, billed as “the friendliest town in Ontario,” joined St. Thomas on the most recent major losses list of the Heritage Canada Foundation as noted three weeks ago in this corner.
The town’s claim to shame is the result of the demolition of Erie Street United Church last December.
The 1876 heritage-designated Gothic-Revival-style structure was demolished “due to unwilling trustees, a town council ignoring its own municipal heritage committee and the minister of culture (Aileen Carroll) refusing to issue a stop-work order that would have allowed time to reconsider its use as a library,” according to the foundation.
My, but that hits a little too close to home.
As does this comment from Ridgetown resident Marlee Robinson.
“We’re right up there with Alma College in St. Thomas.”
“Somebody’s making a lifetime project out of this.”
Central Elgin Deputy Mayor Tom Marks on the lengthy process involved in the Ministry of Transportation redevelopment of Highway 401 service centres in West Lorne and Dutton, shut down since September, 2008.
City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to:
mccallum@stthomastimes journal.com.

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