By Ashley Hayes. Poverty isn’t something typically associated with the developed, or First World. When we think of poverty, we usually think of what is shown on World Vision commercials – starving children in Africa wearing dirty, ill-fitting clothing.
Most people don’t realize that this is a scene taking place in our own city and is a very real problem that needs to be addressed. Just because the poverty and homelessness in Abbotsford doesn’t look the same as in the developing world doesn’t mean it’s not as detrimental to the people affected by it, day in and day out.
Cover photo: Lisa Mytiing and Nicole Lawson of Just Two Girls.
In our community, there are groups which have sprung up to give a helping hand to those in need. While there are services like the Abbotsford Food Bank and the Salvation Army available, they are often running out of crucial supplies and are on the never-ending hunt for donations of money, goods, and services.Citizens Taking It Upon Themselves
Some citizens have taken it upon themselves to help their community, and I had the opportunity to speak with one such group.
Just Two Girls is a local, small non-profit organization started by best friends Nicole Lawson and Lisa Mytting. Nicole is a University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) graduate with a Nursing Unit Clerk certificate and Lisa will be completing her Bachelor of Arts degree at UFV in 2015.
According to the Just Two Girls Facebook page, their mission is “Using compassion and graciousness as motivation, we are on a mini mission to give where we can. We believe compassion is a necessity for all humanity. We hope our kindness will be contagious and encourage others to share love.”
I spoke with Nicole and Lisa to learn more about their organization. I wanted to know the motivation behind starting Just Two Girls. “We are two women who try our hardest to live with compassion at the forefront of everything we do. We believe all people are created equal and deserve a second chance. Many of us have been handed very difficult situations in our lives and it’s not always easy to stay on track.”
“After attempts at volunteering for local homeless resources in the Fraser Valley, we realized we needed to get serious and take the chance on our own. We both have first-hand experience dealing with a substance addicted family member and have relied on community resources to help in times of need, specifically recovery centers. It was through [this experience] that we learned the need for essential daily items in shelters.Good Hygiene And Illness Prevention
“We did some of our own research and found many studies that display the importance of proper hygiene as preventative measures of good physical and mental health.
We aren’t nurses, we aren’t doctors, and we aren’t social workers, but we love and we wanted to show we care. We also know there are many things that get overlooked in fundraising and donating and we aren’t afraid to ask for it: tampons, pads, condoms, etc. It’s all relative for good hygiene and illness prevention whether you live on the street or in a home. We thought encouraging health was a good way to go.”
Just Two Girls is focused on collecting donations for the items which people wouldn’t necessarily think to donate, and which will turn into decreased health risks for those already living with problems that most of us couldn’t even imagine.
“We want to help with local recovery centers, shelters and directly to individuals in need by supplying everyday essentials as much as possible. If we can prevent some larger issues like dental decay or spreading of STDs because we gathered some supplies with the help of our community, we all have done something to be proud of. We are in this together.”
Dignity And Respect
When asked about their thoughts on homelessness and poverty in Abbotsford, Nicole and Lisa weren’t shy in admitting that the issue often winds up being discussed with a political spin by members of our local government, and chose to keep their opinions to themselves. That being said, they offered their opinion on what they feel every citizen of Abbotsford deserves.
“We both think that no matter what social status is being hung over one’s head, they deserve dignity and respect, along with a warm place to [lay] their head, and a full belly. Instead of getting involved in that aspect (the politics of the situation), we have decided to just love and support where we can.”
Ashley Hayes is a UFV student in Professor Eric Spalding’s Media and Communications class.