How a work-place injury can suddenly send you to soup kitchens

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The Vancouver Care Project is the work of 17-year-old Rachel Way, who engages with some of Vancouver’s most vulnerable residents facing poverty and homelessness. Each week she shares the story of one person she has met.

The purpose of this project is to share the stories of the lives of those living and working in and around Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, as well as the homeless and marginalized population of Vancouver. By creating a virtual story book, the goal is to end the stigma that surrounds the area and raise awareness to the struggles the people of the area face.

Dave: A kind, friendly man whose story proves life can change in an instant…

Dave (Photo by Rachel Way)

Meeting Dave was very eye opening for me. Our conversation began with friendly table talk, getting to know one another, and as I got to know him I began to see him for the kind, smart man he was.

As we began to get deeper into his life, Dave’s story surprised me and helped me realize that life can change in an instant, and that none of us are really that far away from resorting to soup kitchens or shelters to get by.

Dave shared stories with me of how he was a successful roofer, getting two pay checks a week and was doing much better than just getting by.

Dave lived a life similar to one that most of us do. He had a job, a home, food on the table, and a comfortable lifestyle. But one day that all changed for him.

After falling four storeys while roofing, Dave suffered injuries which left him unable to work.

With no paycheque and no way to pay the bills, Dave resorted to money under the table and welfare. But, he explains, that just doesn’t pay the bills.

Dave spoke of how injury put a damper on his whole life and left him stuck in a state of resorting to soup kitchens to get by. He explained to me that if he could work, he would, and that he wishes for nothing more than to be able to work again. Dave’s life-changing injury shows how life is sometimes far beyond our control and we are left to make the best of what we have.

Dave’s story helped me to realize and understand that hardship can happen to any of us at any moment.

If there was one thing that I have learned from Dave, it is to understand that everyone has a story and a reason for living the way they do. It is easy to judge and assume that people are in the state they are due to their own choice or lack of effort, but it is stories like Dave’s that prove the opposite.

I hope that we can all take away from Dave’s story and remember to never assume we know all there is to know about someone by first glance and to never judge a book by its cover. So often we are quick to judge and make assumptions; it is stories like Dave’s that remind us to look past our preconceptions and realize that just because we may know a name does not mean we know a story.

This post originally appeared on The Vancouver Care Project and is edited republished here with permission from the author.

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Rachel is a 17-year-old high school student from Vancouver. A travel enthusiast and social justice advocate, Rachel's passions have brought her to the United Nations New York and rural Tanzania on service trips. Her passion for social change and love for storytelling have enabled her to create the Vancouver Care Project project, a virtual storybook sharing stories of those who live work and volunteer on the downtown Eastside of Vancouver or are marginalized in its surrounding communities.