The following is a letter the Trail Times has been given permission to share with readers. Emily Henry, 15, of Rossland wrote this letter to Marylynn Rakuson and Marie Skinner, lead volunteers at the Trail United Church who worked long days keeping the church open as a volunteer-run cooling station during the intense heat wave that seared this region in July.
I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to recognize and understand the great need for centers such as the Cooling Center within our communities.
I think you and Marie have shown people how much stigma and ignorance surrounds the low income citizens, the citizens living on the streets, and the vulnerable population.
I know many people who, by choice or lack of education, contribute to the stigma but by me bringing up the Cooling Center in conversation have come to the realization that these people contribute to our society just as much as the volunteers, or the lawyers, or the healthcare professionals and anyone else.
I also wanted to thank you for allowing me to be a part of this.
It has shown a whole other world I most likely would not have been exposed to.
I have always known about the harsh, oppressing stigma they are subjected to in daily life, but it wasn’t until I started hearing their stories and getting to know them that I could put my privileged and protected life into perspective.
I started thinking about how the lack of education around the subject of homelessness has led to such widespread ignorance.
By letting me help with the Cooling Center I have been able to talk to my friends about the subject and sort of help them reevaluate how they perceive homelessness.
So thank you for helping me start to recognize that.
Once again, thank you for doing this,