Bob was sitting at the corner of Thurlow and Robson Street when we saw first him. He claimed that he was there everyday, “eight days a week”. He likes to display a nametag. Unfortunately he loses it everyday; sometimes it’s because the rain washes it away. However, what stood out the most was his sharp red Santa hat. Aside from it being warm, Bob really likes being festive for the holidays. He was originally from Ontario and has travelled through Winnipeg, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Eventually, he ended up in Vancouver and did not go any further because he would reach the ocean. Ever since, he’s been in this city for 36 years! He confided us that we came at just the right time because he was really hungry; he was thinking about eating the bark from the trees. Bob likes to read his bible because he believes that the content inside contains a lot of truth and that a Holy man had written it. Unfortunately, it got stolen. Lastly, when asked about what he would like, he stated that he would want us to pray for him and people like him in this world.
This conversation with Bob led me to understand more about what the downtown homeless community needs. It’s not just about possessing hunger for food; it’s about having a need to feel included, to know that people care and to have some faith. Despite the challenges he faces everyday, Bob remains optimistic and approaches life with a grin. It was really heartwarming to listen to the stories of the happy-go-lucky man with a cheerful Santa hat. After my peers and I gave him a sandwich and had a meaningful conversation with him, I left with a powerful, inspired feeling that I wanted to do more. Specifically for Bob, we plan to get him a bible to replace the one he lost. Also, we want to give him a photo of himself and a photo we took with him. He had expressed with regret that he only had one picture of himself after all these years. I hope that we can all spare some time to pray for Bob and people like him. Best wishes during this holiday season!