Out-spoken activist sparks homeless dialogue


city_scope_logo-cmyk
After a short time-out in St. Thomas, homeless advocate Jason McComb is back on the road — continuing his Walking in the Free World cross-Canada trek.
On his lay-over, he met with MP Joe Preston, MPP Jeff Yurek and St. Thomas Mayor Heather Jackson to draw attention to the plight of the homeless in order to get them back contributing to society.
He was encouraged to approach all candidates in the upcoming municipal vote to peg them down on homeless initiatives.
During a similar round table discussion back in January, Jason made the following observation about the city’s seasonal shelter, Inn out of the Cold.
“Get them in, get them fed, get them showered, get them to bed. Then it’s here’s your breakfast and now out you go.

“When they close the doors in April there’s nobody there to say, ‘Let’s figure out what your options are beyond here.’ They should have been doing this before closing the doors.
“People who come into the shelter need to have a chore in the morning. Then there’s a sense of accomplishment. You respect your environment.”

Homeless advocate Jason McComb

Homeless advocate Jason McComb


Jason pulls no punches and that prompted the following response from Ken Brooks, vice-chairman of the shelter’s board of directors.
“That is not an accurate reflection of the assistance we provide to the shelter guests,” writes Brooks. “Besides providing meals, a shower and a place to sleep, our volunteers and staff try to determine if there are ways we can be of further assistance.
“The Elgin-Oxford Legal Clinic provides a social worker to assist in connecting the guests to other services,” Brooks continues. They regularly assist the guests in accessing social assistance or finding more permanent accommodation.
“If there are medical issues, the staff and volunteers assist guests in accessing St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital, as well as the Canadian Mental Health Association, Elgin Branch.
“We have connected to the Central Community Health Centre to provide services and they have attended with their mobile unit to assist with matters such as flu shots and foot care. We have computers at the shelter so guests can look for jobs as well as accommodation.
“Guests have been successful in obtaining social assistance, disability benefits, employment, transitional housing as well as permanent housing. We regularly provide vouchers so our guests can obtain lunch through CMHA, Elgin, since the shelter is not open during the day.
“During the off-season, some of our guests make contact with staff and agencies to access food or other needs.”
And he concludes, “There is so much more to do to address homelessness issues, but we want the community to be aware some things are being done to help.”
While the comments from Brooks may be seen as criticism, it can also be argued Jason’s walk and penchant for telling it like it is has at least opened up a dialogue.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Last week, we took the liberty of outing city developer Bob McCaig as the unidentified individual who is attempting to gain control of the mayor’s office and ultimately impact the decisions of council.

Bob McCaig

Bob McCaig


We went one step further and referred to aldermen Jeff Kohler and Mark Cosens as members of the McCaig posse.
All of this undertaken with the knowledge McCaig would be quick to fire up the BlackBerry and rip off a response.
Well, here is just a snippet of his outrage(?).
“You thingle thumbed Blackguard — to have, by inference associated me with the Liberal Party is quite the lowest that you, one of the meanest scribblers of all time, could reach,” asserts McCaig.
“I plan to write to your employers and demand your salary be cut in half!”
Not as bombastic a threat as anticipated. Most detractors want me struck off the payroll entirely.
In any event, we staunchly stand by our assertion McCaig has no qualms backing a candidate — such as Cosens — with deep Liberal roots.
Why else would McCaig have contributed $750 — as did long-time Liberal Steve Peters — to the Cosens campaign in 2010?
With that, I ask that my salary be fully restored!
And, next week we’ll address other concerns raised by McCaig, who is alarmed my aim is slightly off to the right of late.

KEEP AN EYE ON THIS ONE
Looks like a resolution to the war of words between aldermen Cliff Barwick and Lori Baldwin-Sands may be imminent.
This dates back to earlier this year and we only know about the incident because Ald. Cosens was so eager to discredit Barwick at the March 10 council meeting.
To recap, during an in-camera meeting Barwick and Baldwin-Sands engaged in a heated verbal exchange and now she is seeking disciplinary action and he is threatening legal action.
All fine and dandy except a municipal vote is two months away and anything that would discredit Barwick in his attempt to return to the mayor’s office would be seized upon by some.
And, as was the case with the trumped-up Sutherland Press building lawsuit against Barwick and others prior to the 2010 municipal election, laying bare allegations of misbehavior in a closed-camera session would be like pennies from heaven for certain individuals.
Rather than dealing with the myriad issues impacting St. Thomas, there are those most eager to again turn a trip to the polls into a down and dirty donnybrook.
Is it too much to ask that we determine this city’s direction over the next four years on worth rather than through character assassination?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
14 jt 03 clarkejpg
“I’ve been around the city long enough, I don’t have an agenda and I’m not connected with anybody.”
Aldermanic candidate Gary Clarke in an interview this week.

City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to ian.mccallum@sunmedia.ca.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Out-spoken activist sparks homeless dialogue

  1. Ian…
    Thank you again for this story! I must reply here to Mr. Brooks! Mr Brooks, with all due respect I need tell you that your remarks here are either inaccurate or omissive. I say this only as a result of both having first hand experience that contradicts your claim as well as having had “heated conversation” with staff at the shelter in relation to this (via internet messaging). I urged the young lady assuming the role of “Volunteer Co-coordinator” (I was previously under the false impression that this individual was the “ultimate authority” in decisions made at the shelter in relation to assistance provided to the clients at the shelter in nearly all areas. This false impression was not as a result of assumption or the likes rather, not long after the learning of the shelter I was informed that this was the person that started the shelter in our area, runs it, etc. That though is less than important just now! The important thing is my many attempts at working with them in hopes of many things that in the end were narrowed down to me essentially begging for them to do what an “outreach area/shelter/etc.” ideally does for the clients only to be told…

    *THE FOLLOWING WAS ONE OF MANY SIMILAR INTERNET CONVERSATION WITH INN OUT OF THE COLD STAFF*

    “Jason, you have to understand we are not a resource center we are a place to stay over night and have a shower and do laundry if they want that’s it! We don’t need any resources we give vouchers to the guys for the Salvation Army if they need things we don’t have the staff here that are trained to help the guys you think they should get help. We give them a meal a shower and warm place to stay until breakfast and then they can go to Talbot House for lunch if they want things that you have I guess they will have to find you but I don’t have the time to tell everyone of them about you or other places they can go to get things my job is to get them signed in make sure they don’t cause any shit in Troys church and then make sure they are up in time for breakfast and gone so I can go home and sleep”

    I immediately said “We are in the positions we are in, we do what we do for the down trodden, the less fortunate NOT FOR OURSELVES! We need to work together we are all resources for each other to achieve our goal. That goal is to assist the down trodden in anyway we can and work together while doing it. This is NOT a competition, this is not supposed to be a business. I am here for your clients, and for any of the less fortunate for the same reason you are to help THEM not ourselves. All I am telling you is that we have to work together, if someone needs shelter and the time of year is appropriate in the opinion of those in power, I send them to you in hopes that you will provide the said shelter! Just like if they have needs that I can provide for (which I am more than successful at you have seen that yourself), I am a resource hub I have a book with every resource needed as well as many that will rarely be needed in Elgin County.

    *Interrupted at this point*

    “Jason we don’t need any resources, if we have a crisis we use the Salvation Army that is all we need we just give the guys a voucher in the morning and send them to first Ave. If we have needs it goes on the Facebook page and the people can go there and look to see what we need. We do fundraisers if we need money bad enough the community will always give it to us. We really don’t need you or any resources and we don’t have time for it anyway our purpose is to feed them let them get clean if they want and keep them warm overnight and that’s it!

    “Seriously all I am asking is that all agencies and outreach organizations work together to find a better way for those who can’t find their way, hell I don’t give a sh!t, I will walk the stuff needed over every night or morning it is a five minute walk.

    *Interrupted again*

    “Thank You for your offer of help. like in the post we need mens pants and not very many. Just having some on hand for emergencies until we can send our Guests to The Salvation Army with a voucher. Thanks again.”

    ME; “ok you send them there with a voucher when they are less than a five minute walk from a place where nothing is required of them! You are most welcome the offer is always open for me to do what I set out to do (help the down trodden without reservation, agenda, or cosmetic desire). Whether it is for something that is urgent or to have on hand makes no nevermind making a plea to facebook despite having FULL KNOWLEDGE that I can facilitate that need is sheer ignorance just like I said to Jim when he was standing in here the other day. I am not here for agencies, for anyone but aiding those in need if I can benefit agencies and organizations with what I have and am able to do that rocks but it is working together that brings that about you guys know full well I have the things you asked for when all it would have taken was a phone call and about a half hour to get it together and walk it over yet you made like I dont exist here and went the route you did. This will be one of the things discussed with CMHA, Heather Jackson, Ian MacCullum, and The weekly news when we are able to find coinciding schedules to discuss the bullshit that has and is taking place needlessly!”

    I.O.C.; You saw the post (ON FACEBOOK) why not just get the stuff here like everyone else. not really a big issue we have a facebook page and website to get our info and shelter needs out there and thats what we do. if you can help with what we post as our needs that is great.

    ME; I had the post sent to me, I didnt see it right away I dont get stuff from you guys on facebook nor should I have to go around asking Hi I have stuff to help need anything? to people especially if they know full well all they have to do is call me and say Hi this is what we need. it is those in need that seek not those that have running around asking and looking for holes to fill! You know bloody well to call me for crying out loud nevermind messaging me hours after posting something that I get a message about asking why I wasnt asked for these things and having to explain all of the difficulties and dismay for the behaviour and irresponsible “antics”and lack of co operation from your end. That is the reason for having the reporters come with me to the meeting to discuss the atrocities that took place recently as well as things like this. We have been through this before and it is the same. I cant go around checking your site! I have a responsibility here but, that does not and should not matter, get over your personal issues with me I am not in this for you, Jim Troy, the shelter etc… I am in this to do what I do and what you guys claim, I am here to help those needing help not earn a fu***ng paycheck or be selective with how I receive help I know where to get my needs and go there just like every rational preson, organization, agency etc… does If you were cold in the house do you think St Thomas energy would come by and ask if you want heat? No you would call them and tell them you need heat! Same applies here!

    I.O.C. ; I am only speaking with you because you posted on the site. I for 3 years have posted our needs on the page and I will not stop doing that if I was told by my bosses to call you I would as I have in the past, And I did last week for and emergency situation, We have always had our guests go to the Salvation Army and that has not changed like I said you saw the post just like all the other people did you know where we are and how to contact us just like all the other people in this community. This is not a personal thing at all or I would have contacted you on your personal FB profile not your business as I have for the past several months. What you have on the go regarding your work and the Shelter Board is between you and them I do not care to know about it unless they need to tell me. I will not discuss this any further as you and I don’t seem to see eye to eye on how I am told to do my job.

    ME; You just dont get it! I am NOT a business for one! Second where do you get the audacity to expect an organiztion to go around looking for the needs when it is very clear that you know I have the needs here, I got the post after you posted it because a member of the community told me it was made not because I have “esp” and sought it out. Yes you contacted me last week for an emergency with William C. Believe me I will never forget the entirety of the disgrace that went on with him, I have made the proper referals for him in man ways, he and the atrocity on behalf of….

    IT ONLY WENT IN CIRCLES FROM THERE UNTIL I BROUGHT UP THE ISSUE OF THE $11 000 RAISED IN A FUND RAISER (SHORTLY BEFORE THIS CONVERSATION TOOK PLACE) BEING SPENT ON A LAP TOP COMPUTER THAT I PERSONALLY AS WELL AS CLIENTS WITNESSED THE DENIAL OF USE BY CLIENTS! THERE IS SO MUCH MORE HERE BUT THIS HAS ALREADY GONE TOO FAR I DO THOUGH STILL HAVE ALL DOCUMENTATION WITH NAMES DATES AND TIMES AVAILABLE AT MY OFFICE AND AM IN TOUCH WITH IAN OF CITY SCOPE AND ST THOMAS TIMES JOURNAL REGULARLY AND AM MORE THAN HAPPY TO PROVIDE ALL AND ANY PERTINENT INFORMATION ON THIS! I DO APPLAUD YOU ON ALL YOU DO THAT I AM AWARE OF MR. BROOKS AS WELL AS THE QUICK RESPONSE TO MATTERS BROUGHT UP ALBEIT THERE ARE NUMEROUS WAYS THAT JUST AS IT CAN BE SEEN AS HONEST IT CAN ALSO BE SEEN CONTRARY WHEN TRUE ‘MORAL’ DEFINITION OF “OMISSION” IS APPLIED! I INVITE YOU TO READ THE DOCUMENTS PREPARED FOR THE UPCOMING MUNICIPAL ELECTION HOPEFULS FOR ST THOMAS CITY COUNCIL AND WILL BE MORE THAN HAPPY TO FORWARD YOU A COPY VIA EMAIL!
    PLEASE FORGIVE THE USE OF “CAPS LOCK”
    Jason H. McComb

  2. THE PUPPETMASTER?
    You tell us that Bob McCaig contributed to Mark Cosens’ run for alderman in the 2010 election, but fail to mention that Bob McCaig also supported defeated mayoral candidate Cliff Barwick with a $750 donation to his campaign for the top spot.
    Last week in your candid conversation with Barwick about the possible impact of an outside influence on the mayor’s office, he said “I am not mentioning any outside names, but the office of the mayor may attempted to be controlled or unduly influenced by outside source or sources”.
    Was this the voice of experience talking, as another omission in your column is that the Ostojic family combined for $2,000 in contributions to Barwick’s campaign – so who do think might have been tugging Barwick’s strings back when he was mayor?

    ASS-ASS-INATION
    “Is it too much to ask that we determine the city’s direction over the next four years on worth rather than through character assassination?” you ask. The kettle calling the pot black.
    For the past four years and beyond, you have done a hatchet job on three aldermen; Mark Cosens, Jeff Koehler and Lori Baldwin-Sands. You put the ass in assassination dear scribe; it’s time to climb down off that hobby horse. Is that too much to ask?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s