James has been a client and volunteer at the shelter for as long as I’ve volunteered there. I don’t think anyone can wash dishes as quickly as James.
He bought his running shoes at Champs Sports store.
What is your biggest struggle with poverty on a daily basis?
“Definitely, shelter. I don’t have a place to live. I’ve been staying at this shelter for two weeks now. Before that I’d stay at the Mission, couch-surf at friend’s homes or sleep on church steps. I can’t live with my Mom because she has other kids living there. That’s not an option.”
“I used to have an apartment. But, I had 25 mice living with me. Oh, and there were bed-bugs and black mold. I planned on changing apartments within the same building. I had it all arranged but there was an electricity block on the unit I was supposed to get. It didn’t pan out.”
“Leaving my apartment was an emergency move. I lost a lot of things. I stored some stuff at my Mom’s. The rest of my belongings, well, I carry them on my back.”
“I tried my hardest to get rid of the mice. I bought 4 little plastic mouse traps at Canada Salvage. They’re pretty cheap. I arranged empty toilet paper rolls around the garbage cans and food.”
“You have to get into a mouse’s mind; think like a mouse! Don’t link the rolls. Spread a little peanut butter here and there. Make corners with the rolls. Mice like to scurry through them. They get euphoric going through the maze. Then, boom! There’s a trap at the end. You got ‘em!”
“But, it’s important you clean the traps later with bleach. Sterilize them before you set them again. If the mice smell “death” from another mouse, they’ll avoid the trap. They’re smart little critters.”
“If you clean the traps, and make a maze with the toilet paper rolls, soon you’ll find a line of mice- just like how you’d see ants near food. But, wham! You could break the line of command with an unclean trap.”
“Use peanut butter as bait. People think you should use cheese. But, cheese can go moldy. And, the mice won’t be interested.”
“That’s how I caught 25 mice. One right after the other. No poison necessary. But, the bed-bugs and black mold were too much for me. Enough was enough.”
What would you like people to know about living in poverty?
“You have to actually live in it to know what it’s all about. Tell people to just be generous. We’re all in the same struggle of life. Be it a disability or what-have-you; we all got something.”
“Keep your head up! You gotta be brave. Be proud, be safe, and hold your head up high!”
“I tell people that and they say, ”How can I possibly be proud?” I tell them, “You got your game on!” That they’ve quit drugs. They might not have money or stuff but they’re clean. Be proud of that!”
“There’s always tomorrow. Don’t just give up and throw in the towel.”
“People think this shelter is only for the homeless. But, if you’re on welfare or disability, you never have enough. You can come here and get food and clothing. The streets aren’t like what they used to be. They’re not safe. There are shelters to help you now.”
“Take a look inside yourself. Look into your mirror. Don’t be afraid. We’re all human. We’ve all got struggles.”