Kevin’s tragic death touched many people and resulted in an outpouring of generosity and led to a tree and plaque in his memory in Peel Village Park (thank you, Maureen Abraham Sim) and a grave marker for his grave in Duffin Meadows Cemetery, Pickering (thanks to Al Hunkeler for recommending the memorial company).
And, of course, it led to a conviction of Kevin’s abuser and some form of justice for Kevin as a result of the actions of Phil Anderson and Pam Read.
There were some monies left after buying the tree, plaque, and grave marker. After some thought, the monies are being used to acknowledge those incredible people who work at the street level with homeless people.
Kevin's adult life was lonely. Despair was common for him. He was sometimes utterly homeless, sometimes in shelters, or for short bursts in supported housing. During these years, he had ongoing, meaningful relationships with various outreach workers - the kind that roam the streets with knapsacks or work in the drop-ins centres in which Kevin would visit, eat, and become known. ..
The human connection provided by these outreach workers brings comfort, solace, and respect to folks who are acutely and deeply suffering daily. The workers do more than enable survival – they sustain the soul. But they do so at a cost to themselves. On a daily basis, they are exposed to some of the most acute, ongoing human suffering in our society. They see people who have had every door shut on them, no loved ones in their lives, and never know where they will sleep the next night. Loss is a constant. As one worker said “Oh yeah, checking obits is a regular thing here"
As part of Kevin's legacy, we are acknowledging the contributions of these underpaid and undervalued workers. Workers can nominate other workers whom they feel deserve recognition, listing the individual’s special attributes and gifts.
All nominees receive a recognition package. Each package contains a custom letter outlining our awareness of and appreciation for their work, a gift certificate for a relaxation massage, a comfy too-soft couch blanket, a gift certificate for a local, trendy bakery/café and small framed print (see image) that captures what they do with such grace. And, where geographically possible, they are blessed with the gift of lunch with the witty and handsome Tom Regehr.
This is a personal, human level effort appropriate for people who look past the surface and engage with homeless people as individuals with unique needs. We hope the workers can feel that we appreciate them, that we strive to understand their work and what it is like, and that we care about their well-being.
Huge thanks to Tom Regehr who has undertaken the work associated with this recognition project in memory of Kevin. We have four nominees presently and word is quietly spreading. We have funds to do 15 or so.
Your generosity made this possible. Heartfelt thanks to all of you.