Random notes from the Caring Cupboard Annual General Meeting


It was standing room only at Caring Cupboard’s Talbot St. storefront Monday, Feb. 24 for their annual general meeting . . . an AGM board chairman Ward Houghton and several board members in attendance have not experienced in the past.

Uncomfortable would best describe the reaction of the board during the one-hour session terminated by Houghton with members of the general public – clients of the food bank and representatives of several community organizations including the YWCA and the Central Community Health Centre – still eager to vent their frustration and offer suggestions.

We’ll deal at length with the AGM later this week but here are a few random quotes:

“No one chooses to use a food bank.” – food bank client

“The way people are treated (at Caring Cupboard) is demoralizing . . . They are losing people, they are scared, they are terrorized.” – food bank client

“I want this noted. There is a problem here with the way people are treated.” – food bank client

“We have clients come in who are in tears. They are devastated. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.” – Judith Willey, CCHC

“As a board member I feel horrible. To hear your stories is horrible.”

With no formal complaint process, Houghton suggested clients or those denied food can contact him. His phone number is: 519-631-2212.

Since they are not listed on the Caring Cupboard website, here are the other members of the Caring Cupboard board: Marilynn Andrews, Anne Ashfield, Susan Cole, Rev. Mavis Currie, Maureen Ferguson, Jim Miller, Ken Money, Joyce Shippling, Ted Sturk, Tammy Tolman, Suzanne Van Bommel and Esther Wendel-Caraher.

Food for thought over at the food bank


city_scope_logo-cmyk

A young mother this week posted on the Times-Journal Facebook page her desperate plea for assistance. “I needed bread and milk. Quite desperately. I have a week left until I get CCTB (Canada child tax benefit) and I am almost out of both.”
She did what many in St. Thomas would do, she gathered up spare change and headed to the Caring Cupboard food bank.
On her arrival, she discovered numerous changes, including a new executive director, Janice Kinnaird.
The young mother had previously complied with the need to show personal ID, proof of income and rental information so she could receive much-needed food assistance in the future simply by arriving with an item of identification.
She was denied assistance this time out because she could not comply with the new policy of presenting full ID.
Continue reading

Has waste contractor got act together?


city_scope_logo-cmyk
The city’s new waste contractor takes to the streets in a couple of weeks and we can only hope the launch is a smoother affair than the day-to-day operations up in Whitchurch-Stouffville, north of Toronto.
The new contractor, Green for Life, takes over from BFI in St. Thomas, which in turn replaced Green Lane Environmental.
Green for Life not only serves Whitchurch-Stouffville, but several other municipalities in York Region where it has been experiencing mechanical issues with its trucks, leading to missed collections.
That has been compounded by a lack of communication from GFL on the service disruptions.
Continue reading

What do downtown barriers portend?


city_scope_logo-cmyk
It took a month, however we finally have had someone step up to the plate to declare their candidacy in the October municipal election.
Mayor Heather Jackson filed her nomination papers first thing Monday morning, although she has not finalized her campaign platform.
We talked with her Tuesday on what her strategy may be in a bid for a second term as mayor.
“I’m working with my team on finalizing the platform. We’ll be releasing that in the coming weeks. I don’t want to take the focus away from the work that needs to be done right now.
“We’ve been elected to a four-year term so we’ve got work to continue to do.”
The one thing she wants to avoid is a repeat of the down-and-dirty 2010 election campaign — a black eye for the city on several fronts.
“I can stand behind everything we’ve accomplished as a council and continue to do. It’s certainly not what I’m looking to do. I don’t believe that is in the best interest of anybody and I certainly hope that anybody else who runs for either alderman or mayor keeps that in mind.”
Continue reading

A new beginning, but about the ending


city_scope_logo-cmyk

It’s a new beginning for Tara Hall. The 36-bed, adult assisted-living home dating back to 1988 on Chester St., is under new ownership and is now re-branded as New Beginnings Residence.
Late last year we dwelt with the domiciliary hostel, one of several unregulated residences in St. Thomas that provide board or lodging for vulnerable individuals who need supervision of their daily living activities.
The facility currently is on a month-to-month contract with the city for the provision of lodging and late last year, the situation with Tara Hall and previous owner Jim Akey was the topic of discussion behind closed doors.
We had a lengthy discussion with new owner John Gaspar, who operates four other residences across the province.
“When taking over the place, I was surprised there was a level of violence and a bit of chaos,” Gaspar admits.
“Doing further investigation,” he continues, “there were some agencies, and even the police, that were not happy with some of the rumors about what was going on in the place. So, I wanted to make a clear and fresh start and let the community know this was a new beginning and hence the name.
Continue reading