A Concrete Bed Garners a Comfortable Solution

by Maritime
Categories: 2020, Blog, Events, News Archive

Many of us are fortunate to never experience homelessness. But for those who have, breaking through stereotypes to communicate their story can be a challenge, especially for those who recently spent time on the streets.

The Salvation Army Bedford Macdonald House in Charlottetown has found a creative solution to help formerly homeless residents tell their story by using poetry. Through a partnership with The Guild, they had the opportunity to display their poems through a week-long art show titled A Concrete Bed. On opening night, the poets read their work to an audience of more than 50 people who came out to show their support and learn the realities of homelessness.

Telling their Stories

Brian, one of the poets who attended the event, left home at the age of 14 but stayed with his grandparents on and off throughout his teens. “They looked after me but I still had to learn survival skills when I was on the streets,” Brian recalls. Each time he went back to his grandparents’ home, he was cognizant of the survival mode because of his instability. “I was scared,” he says.

In his poem, Four Walls Four Chambers, Brian recited;

A heart is a Home for feelings,
Happiness, sorrow, love and pain.
All feelings are at a time in a heart.
Home is a feeling because home is where the heart is.

An Evening with Impact

Surrounding the perimeter of the gallery walls at The Guild were many illustrations depicting the writer’s feelings.

If hearing the spoken words form the poetry of the once homeless men wasn’t impacting enough, you’d get a deeper sense of their recovery from the visuals. Local artist, Jennifer Coughlin, illustrates darkness hovering over a homeless person, a clock with the numbers blown here and there, and many quotes taken from the authors of the poetry.

Jennifer recounts the meaning of the mixed up and numberless clock. “I was attempting to illustrate that time was withering away and the impact of the wind was turning time into dust,” she says. “Not everyone will see it portrayed that way so I was careful to point out that each person may see things differently and that’s okay.”

Sharing the Solution of Hope

The formerly homeless men are now using their poetry as stories of hope to share with others who may be going through a similar experience.

Michael Redmond, Residential Manager of The Salvation Army Bedford Macdonald House, sees the impact homelessness has on these men every day. But he also sees lives being transformed through the work of The Salvation Army. “The homeless are not bad people; they just go through hardships,” he explains. “Such hardships are why the places like The Salvation Army Bedford Macdonald House need to exist.”

To raise vital funds to help support their programs, The Salvation Army Bedford Macdonald house will be hosting their 1st Annual Dinner and Live Auction on March 14, 2020. Visit their social media page to learn more.

By: Jan Keats