Monday, March 2, 2009

hey brother, can you spare 26 years?

i interviewed mel boutilier today and left his cramped, award-stuffed parker street food and furniture bank office feeling inspired and humbled. for the past 26 years, he's been the head of the last stop for downandouts. just in the past week or so, he's helped a guy who was until recently doing ok out in alberta and who suddenly finds himself 'embarrassed' and in desperate need of help after getting laid off. it seems a lot of one-time oilsand millionaires are out of work and back in nova scotia, but still stuck paying for $300,000 homes that nobody wants in calgary. mel also helped a woman whose husband, 47, died suddenly, leaving uninsured her and her son, 10, in danger of eviction if they couldn't find rent money.

other agencies kick in eventually, but parker street is there immediately.

i was impressed enough with mel - he's very quiet and let his newly hired communications and fundraising guy talk - before i asked him if he had any plans to retire. turns out he's 81 and actually retired 26 years ago - which is when he took up the full-time post at parker street, and where he has worked ever since, for not a single penny.

i get the feeling he would like to step down, but that means someone else has to step up.


parker street is in need of cash donations to bolster its emergency fund to help people like those mentioned above. those of us who are poor can help ourselves, and parker street, by shopping at their second-hand shops (6110 almon st in hali, 95 caledonia rd in dartmouth).

in other news, by curious coincidence i am on my way to becoming one of the world's leading experts on doubt. i reviewed the movie for my culture corner column in the weekly news this week and then today started planning out the next column. turns out it's time to review the new neptune play, which is... doubt! the movie is great but a friend an i were wondering what the original play was like. i'll find out next week!


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