Wednesday, May 14, 2008

van patrol and coffee runs

Last night was my first time doing van patrol. I really LOVE doing Street Patrols in my volunteer work with the Salvation Army so I was super excited to get to do it for my job! While we do it on foot Friday nights, my work uses a van, this means we can go a whole lot further, carry more stuff, stay warmer (and out longer), and take two people instead of four. There's great opportunities on foot though that you don't get in the van.

Part of doing van patrol means picking up a food a local 7/11 donates to us and doing coffee runs for the staff. Going through the Tim Horton's drive through not once, but twice seems to be a common occurrence.

The important part of van patrol however is driving through the back lanes, down local streets where prostitution is common and just keeping the area as safe as possible. It was raining and cold yesterday, so thankfully we didn't see a lot of people on the street. It's hard to know where the homeless go, but they mostly, they find somewhere. Unfortunately, this often means a lot of drug use as people are able to crash at crack houses and such.

The one thing we did do was drive a young woman who was prostituting home. As we drove down the street we called out to each one just checking to make sure they were okay and didn't need anything. This way if they're being watched by someone they won't get hurt later for being interfered with. The last one we talked to said she was going home and accepted our offer of a ride. We didn't push anything on her, just asked her if she knew about local resources; she did. The person with me said she seemed very new at working the streets, and she really did. It's sad, that this is what she has to do, for whatever reason.

After that we got a call to pick up someone at the hospital. We have a relationship with a couple local hospital emergency rooms to do trips for them. It's not an official policy relationship or anything, just an agreement with the ER nurses. The nurses are able to call us when they have a patient they know has no way to get home and is marginalized and vulnerable. They don't overuse us, and so we're happy to do it. They do A LOT for our clients, it's the least we can do for them. Yesterday we drove a woman younger then me, who seemed A LOT younger, to a downtown hotel. She had been medevaced from up north for a possible spinal injury which turned out negative. She had no idea how she was getting back to where her mom was staying (the hotel), let alone back up north, so the nurses called us.

Driving people around can sometimes seem like a waste of resources, but I'm sure for the two women we helped last night, it meant a lot.

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