By Bart Campbell
FINALIST, HUBERT EVANS NON-FICTION PRIZE
The Door is Open is a compassionate, reflective, and informative memoir approximately three-and-a-half years spent volunteering at a skid row drop-in centre in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. In a space most famed for its stunning social ills, and the excellence of maintaining the country's "very poorest ahead sortation region of all 7,000 postal prefixes," Bart Campbell dismantles our hard-held notions approximately poverty, the disenfranchised, substance abuse, and the character of charity. The Door is Open is the tale of 1 transformative trip throughout the complex and intricate international of poverty.
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Alcoholics impact every health and service facility in the downtown eastside. They monopolize the system with their immediate needs, and seemingly receive what they want on their own terms. All of life’s necessities (and binge money, too) are readily provided by a plethora of sixty competing services. And sometimes you can’t help but think that some of these drunks are doing it on purpose—that there is nothing at all wrong with them except selfishness and self-pity, viciousness and fear. Sometimes it is difficult to tell whether some skid row alcoholics are psychologically damaged or just extremely selfish.
Several guys in line called out to him when he walked through the front door. “Tim, Tim, over here! ” one old guy near the end of the line called. ” Brother Tim asked him. ” “But someone said you was going to give away something good when you get back,” the old man complained. Brother Tim asked the deflating mob if anyone knew what it was he was supposed to give them? Not one of them did. ” Ten people died of heroin overdoses in the Lower Mainland last weekend. On Thursday, February 22nd (1996) there were five fatal overdoses, and then four more on Friday.
It’s one of the better soup kitchen meals around town except for the “fish” sandwiches that are made from donated salmon that the sisters tin themselves. Those are an acquired taste, and since a fifth of every day’s production is usually fish sandwiches, many of them are tossed whole to the delighted gulls. It is the reason why they come. “The sisters should try eating what they serve,” is a common bread line complaint about fish sandwiches. There are only eight sisters left in the Vancouver order because no one seems to get vocations for a religious life anymore.