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Once homeless herself, local woman helps stage march for beaten homeless man

Monday, February 8th, 2010 | 8:30 am

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By John McDonald

She doesn’t know the man, but Heather Henderson knows he needs to see the community cares.

That’s why the Kelowna woman wants other locals to join her in the March to Show We Care on Monday, in support of the homeless man who was severely beaten in a random attack by a group of thugs last week, outside a local mall.

The as-yet unidentified man told police he called for help from people walking by but no one intervened, or even called 911. Afterward, the man staggered off to a bus stop and got on the next bus. The driver called it in.

“We’re starting the march from the Zellers parking lot where he was beaten and walking over the bus stop where he got on the bus,” Henderson said. “We want to show how far he had to walk before someone helped. It’s quite far even without broken ribs.”

Henderson is helping march organizer Celia Brown-Clayton spread the word and says she comes by her concern honestly. “I’ve personally gone through times of homeless in Edmonton and Calgary,” she said. “Those are hard towns. You see lots of violence between the homeless, but also between the homeless and society.”

Born and raised in Kelowna, Henderson said she returned last May to a different place, big city problems replacing the small town ones she remembers. “It broke my heart,” she admitted. “I couldn’t believe the rapid growth and all the stuff that’s going on now.”

Kelowna’s high rents makes it tough here to maintain housing, Henderson adds. “And then how are you going to work if your homeless?” she said. “You’ve no place to shower, can’t eat three square meals, and you’re only getting $70 a day at a temp agency. That’s not a battle that many can win.”

Still, Henderson said it’s not all bad, and that Kelowna has made some strides in how it deals with its homeless.

“There are a lot of success stories in Kelowna,” she said. “It doesn’t mean you have to find a house for every single homeless person, but it means dealing with it as best you can.”

That’s why Henderson wants to see Kelowna Mayor Sharon Shepherd show up at Monday’s march, beginning at 5 p.m.

“She’s so fair-minded on theses issues,” she said. “In a town that doesn’t want a whole lot done for the homeless, the Mayor has stood up and done something.”

She would also like to see Barry Heidebrecht show up. He’s the man who jumped in on an attempted bank robbery last fall, and along with another man, subdued a would-be bank robber until police arrived.

“I think that would encourage people, that if they see something going on that’s not right, they address it,” Henderson added. “That doesn’t mean you have to jump in on it, or get yourself hurt; just draw some attention to it or at least step in afterwards and help the guy out.”

She is predicting a violent backlash at some point if more of these swarming style beatings happen to the homeless.

“It’s flight or fight. Someone is going to turn on them,” she warned. “They’ve been beaten enough and the consequences could be extreme.”

Henderson is encouraging donations at the march, not for the homeless man, who she says has already been well supplied by other social service agencies, but for the Kelowna Drop In Centre. ”

“I hear they’re really hurting and that’s a valuable service,” Henderson said.

For more information about the March to Show We Care, call Henderson at 778-478-1702

Once homeless herself, local woman helps stage march for beaten homeless man3.854

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3 Responses to “Once homeless herself, local woman helps stage march for beaten homeless man”

  1. heather says:
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    well covered thanks John

  2. Meghan says:
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    Well done Heather, I think it’s awesome that you’re standing up for something you feel strongly about. Too bad I can’t actually make it to the march tonight, I’ll be there in spirit though.

  3. John Zeger says:
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    “Born and raised in Kelowna, Henderson said she returned last May to a different place, big city problems replacing the small town ones she remembers. “It broke my heart,” she admitted. ‘I couldn’t believe the rapid growth and all the stuff that’s going on now.’”

    To what does Heather Henderson attribute the social problems that Kelowna currently has? The RAPID GROWTH. Do you get it yet, folks?

    Please continue discussion on the forum: link

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