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APRIL 2020

STEPPING INTO THE NEED 4/26/2020 Lana Missen finds herself in the thick of Green Wood Coalition’s response to COVID-19 -- a role she never would have imagined a few short months ago. The 28-year-old supports the outreach team, spells them off when they’re weary and pitches in how ever she can to help those whose lives have been disrupted by homelessness in the midst of a pandemic.

You need only to believe in destiny to understand Lana Missen is exactly where she is supposed to be.

And where she is, on the frontlines of Green Wood Coalition’s response to COVID-19, only fate could have had a hand in.

The 28-year-old spends her days supporting David Sheffield and Nicole Whitmore at Ground Zero of Northumberland’s homelessness crisis. The Green Wood outreach team is working with people at the Transition House temporary shelter in Cobourg, at emergency accommodation in Port Hope, on the streets, in secluded spots where a few have taken refuge -- wherever COVID-19 ambushed those who are homeless.

And none of these places is where Lana expected life to lead her.

“Green Wood has changed my life. It is the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Growing up in Cobourg, Lana eagerly traded small-town life for the city, earning a degree from the Ontario College of Art and Design and later specializing in art administration at Humber College.

She had a “sense” poverty and homelessness existed in Northumberland County but hadn’t witnessed it. Then in 2016, she was hired as a summer student by Green Wood.

“It’s changed my perspective. It’s changed my understanding about really working toward having a radical sense of empathy. We all have something to offer, and we all have something to give.”

She went on to do a three-year stint in donor engagement and fundraising at Sketch, a not-for-profit organization in Toronto dedicated to arts education for marginalized youth. But worn down by city life, Lana was questioning her future. Then Green Wood called.

“I took a huge risk. I had a full-time job with benefits. I left that to work at Green Wood for three days a week over a summer. I knew it would pay my gas and my phone bill.”

The job was extended this past fall and, supplemented by other part-time work, Lana settled in as Green Wood’s Capacity Development Coordinator. Then COVID-19 struck.

“Back in 2016, I didn’t know anything about Green Wood. But coming back this time, I knew I needed Green Wood in my life, its humanity, its principles. It makes me feel whole.”

Work at the frontline of this crisis is tough. She spends her days helping people whose already tumultuous lives have been completely disrupted.

Yet, she sees hope.

“I think we’ve been given a strange gift by the pandemic in that we can choose to keep the things that have worked and change what hasn’t. It’s really sad it’s taken a pandemic for people to notice homelessness, but it feels like there’s a lot of potential for change to happen.”

We're proud to be working collaboratively with Transition House and Northumberland County, walking alongside people who are experiencing homelessness, in the midst of this pandemic.

Dear Friends, ​Change is our new reality. Last week I told a friend, “Today feels better than it did two days ago. Some things are working better, like people who are homeless having a place to go during the day.” Then a couple was forcibly evicted from a tent where they were living, along a wooded area of Cobourg Creek. Green Wood was supporting them with food and other necessities. There aren’t a lot of safe options for individuals experiencing homelessness right now, and the couple was actually better off where they were. It would mean making an exception for these people, but aren’t we living in an exceptional time? This is the sort of radical disruption we face daily. We think, “This thing is going to work or that’s going to work” and then, like the tent, a solution you thought you had can’t happen anymore. Some days are pretty hard, pretty exhausting.

WE SALUTE 4/1/2020

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of learning and re-learning new ways of doing things on the frontlines of homelessness in our community. Great new collaborations have been created that are making some things work better. We salute these people, some of the frontline, face-to-face workers who are showing up each day for people who are most at risk and least able to change their life situation. Thanks to staff from Transition House and Salvation Army for being there in the trenches with us.

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