By Mike Archer. When Jeff Gruban of the Abbotsford Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists and Ward Draper of The 5 and 2 Ministries first met they recognized something in each other that convinced both men they could work together.
“There was an understanding on a basic human level.” says Gruban, adding, “We were both trying to make a better world.”
Draper agrees wholeheartedly. “It may sound funny to some but we have one of our best working relationships with Jeff and the Atheists.”
The two men have dispensed with the aspects of religion and philosophy over which they disagree and focused on the aspects of day-to-day life in Abbotsford over which they agree, and their organizations are behind them.
One of those is the Abbotsford Homeless Crisis.
Ever since the Abbotsford Chicken Manure Homeless Incident on June 4th, when City officials dumped chicken feces on the homeless residents of a camp across from the Salvation Army, the two men have spoken regularly about the reality on the streets of Abbotsford faced by the men and women who can’t find shelter with Abbotsford’s high barrier, shelters.
Somewhere during those discussions and idea emerged – The Dream Project.
Gruban set about building a prototype for a livable, and movable temporary shelter where homeless people could find shelter from the elements, keep their belongings from being stolen or pepper sprayed by the police, and have a modicum of privacy not afforded by the streets, bushes and ravines of Abbotsford.
Once Gruban had built the prototype, he showed it to Draper who immediately recognized and opportunity when he saw one.
Gruban says the prototype cost only $150 in materials (he built it on his own time, for free) and says that, with help and some funding it would not be difficult to build as many as are needed to help Abbotsford’s homeless men and women find temporary shelter.
Draper came up with a name for the project and a plan.
The Dream Project
The ‘Dream’ in Dream Project stands for:
Respecting the Vulnerable
Equality for All
Meaning for the Marginalized
The vision of the project is, “To bring together individuals and groups from all areas of our community to work together to improve the lives of our most vulnerable and marginalized neighbours.”
Its goals are:
- To create a safer and healthier community
- To foster a sense of belonging in the forgotten and neglected
- To respond to present needs while exploring future responses to critical issues
- To be a group of action, not just talk
The Dream Project
As winter quickly approaches, perhaps the most pressing need of the approximately 200 individuals living in the bushes on the streets of Abbotsford is the lack of a safe, warm, and dry place to sleep. Many people who live outdoors will spend the next five months in a constant losing battle against the elements to keep their beds and belongings dry.
As one could imagine, wet and mouldy bedding and clothing can not only cause a myriad of health issues, but can reinforce a sense of worthlessness by causing a person to feel degraded, devalued, and diminished.
While this crisis obviously highlights the need for more affordable housing and shelter options, the fact of the matter is that neither are immediately forthcoming, and the rainy time of year is upon us.
In order to address this pressing need, we ask that you DREAM with us to construct mobile sleeping units capable of providing, at the very least, protection from the elements