Hey, all. Or, more particularly, all in and around Vancouver (of which I know there are a few).
A few years ago, I got roped into voulenteering at a homeless shelter up in Vancouver; a program called "Out of the Cold." It was run out of the Grandview Calvary Baptist Church, and this was, for certain (and I think obvious) reasons a little uncomfortable in that sense. Still, I had friends I was voulenteering with, and this made the experience survivable at first. Not only did I have people I was comfortable with, but I feel like there was a certain "Safety in numbers" deal going on, which kept the christians from proselytizing to me.
As time went on, and weeks turned into months, the christians there, I think, came to accept me and warmed up to me. I was a hard worker, I was polite, and I was doing good work. And you know, it was a good experience for me. Really good. I felt like I was living up to my moral standards in a very tangible way.
I always say, "We all have this one life, this one chance, this one world, and afterwards, nothing. It's up to us, and only us, to make sure it's as good experience for all of us as we can. We're all in this thing together." Having the chance to really put that philosophy to action was an enormously satisfying experience.
The next winter, though, when the program started up again, I was working thursday nights. And the next. And the next. And so on. I kept wanting to get back to it, but I never quite found the time.
These last few days, as I'm sure it's escaped nobody's notice, have been terribly, bitterly cold. It put me in mind of that program, and I realized "Hey, I have thursday nights free". I did some checking, and it seems the program is still going. Even better, the guy who was running it at the time I was there - a fellow named Karl - is still around. Karl, more than anyone there, I remember fondly. As the winter program was coming to an end that year, I remember him giving me a card (and I wish I could find it now! I'm sure I didn't throw it away!), telling me about how I had changed his mind about atheists, and showed him it's possible to be moral for entirely altruistic reasons, without any desire or need to get into heaven. It touched me rather deeply.
So, I'm going back there. This thursday, most likely, and I expect on subsequent thursdays as well. This having been said... I find that I would prefer to go there along with a kindred spirit or two, for the same reasons as I enumerated above. I don't know if any of you folks have thursday late afternoon/early evening free, but if you do, I would be glad of the company. Besides which, it's a worthy cause and the feeling of genuine satisfaction which springs from that is one which you would do well not to deny yourselves.
One way or the other, I'll be there. Perhaps I'll have a story or two to share when I get back.