Evergreen Centre had just opened its doors for another day of providing essential supports and services to street-involved youth, when an unexpected visitor arrived. A large man, clearly agitated, began aggressively banging on the doors of the centre demanding food. Although he was older than youth served at Evergreen, YSM drop-in staff member Dwight couldn’t ignore his need and, hoping to alleviate his concerns and help him calm down, Dwight stepped outside to talk to him.
Dwight quickly realized the visitor was suffering from severe mental health issues. As Dwight began speaking to him, asking him to step back to maintain social distance, the man got very close, yelling and spitting in Dwight’s face. As Dwight backed away, the man roughly shoved Dwight and made a false claim to have a weapon.
Dwight was afraid and shaken from this interaction. Though he had been wearing a cloth mask, he hadn’t had time to put on his face shield. So Dwight stepped inside to wash his face, take a breath and pray.
Minutes later, Dwight was back outside, wearing a mask and face shield and carrying a take-away meal.
“I approached him with the bag of food and told him it was okay,” said Dwight. “I gave him the food he needed and that’s when I realized love and forgiveness have true power. He was a mental health patient and his appearance was deceiving.
“I put my arms around him, embraced him, and he began to cry. I told him it was okay, that we loved him and that I forgave him for spitting at me and pushing
me. He started to weaken and cry as I embraced him.
“This embrace was life changing for me. In the political climate we are in, I hope the world will know that forgiveness and love hold true power.”
To learn more about YSM’s Evergreen Centre visit ysm.ca/evergreen.
An image captured from our security camera shows Dwight taking food to man outside the Evergreen Centre.