Adriana Barton had such a damn fine story in my Globe and Mail today I have to admit it brought a tear to my eye. Her multi-page feature in the Focus section takes a close look at an outfit called "The Dudes Club." That's a sort of mutual support group for the most down and out of the down and outers in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
I spent a couple of days and nights in the neighbourhood about forty years ago. It was the kind of place where Lysol & Coke was a popular beverage among the older crowd and heroin was everywhere. It was rough then and the various cycles of new drug fads, crack, meth, what-have-you, haven't smoothed things out. Downtown Eastside is the end of the line, the end of the ride.
The Dudes Club (Dudes is an acronym for Downtown Urban Knights Defending Equality and Solidarity) is a bi-weekly get together that focuses on men's health issues. Not just the kinds of health issues around drinking Lysol and injecting drugs, but the psychological issues that give rise to those behaviours. By all accounts it is a very successful program.
A doctor by the name of Paul Gross seems to be the spark-plug of the operation. We are told that Dr. Gross, who volunteers his own time and serves as medical director, runs the program on a budget of $15,000 per year.
A few paragraphs later we get this;
Researchers at the University of British Columbia are evaluating the program as part of a three year, $270,000 study...
As in WTF kind of a society are we when we scrape together $15,000 to fund a life-altering program that helps some of the most vulnerable among us, then find $90,000 per year to "evaluate" it?
That's so Canadian, eh?