'Homelessness is not a disease': living library offers stories from the streets
2 people who've lived on the streets of Fredericton tell their stories at living library
Mike Kennedy has no fixed address. The 60-year-old from Fredericton, who has multiple sclerosis, spends many of his nights on a stranger's couch.
Kennedy sat down inside the Fredericton Public Library to share his story as part of a living library on homelessness this week.
A living library takes the stories of everyday people and allows them to be "checked out" by another person, much like a book. The borrower is then directed to the person with the stories.
Kennedy said a sense of hopelessness can overwhelm people who find themselves living on the street, so they need help before they reach that stage.
"I guard myself against hopelessness," he said. "I have felt hopelessness and I never want to feel it again."
Getting help isn't instantaneous. Instantaneous help belongs in drive-thrus, you know.- Mike Kennedy, from the living library
Not only does Kennedy not have a roof over his head, without a fixed address, he said he also doesn't have access to health care.
To have access to a medicare card, a person must have a permanent or fixed address.
Over time, a homeless person can get the right help, he said.
"It's a process to get help," he said. "Getting help isn't instantaneous. Instantaneous help belongs in drive-thrus, you know.
"Your attitude will determine your altitude."
Kennedy's message, though, is simple. Help others. He said homeless people are among the most giving.
"Somebody that doesn't have anything will offer what they have to someone else," he said. "That's beautiful.
"Homelessness is not a disease."
Kennedy wasn't the only one at the library sharing stories of life on the streets.
Sandra Robb, who became homeless after complications with her health left her unable to work, has lived on the streets for more than 14 years.
Robb has now found a home in Fredericton and said she doesn't plan to leave anytime soon. But it has been a struggle to get where she is now.
"No one wants to belittle themselves day after day," she said.
Her advice for those people who might still be hoping for a home.
"Fight. Call every day. Nag them. Keep going at them, keep calling, they'll tell you know and after awhile they won't the answer the phone because it's your number, but they'll know it's you."