Tak­ing it to the streets

Ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor ad­mits lim­i­ta­tions of ex­per­i­ment, but val­ues ex­pe­ri­ence none­the­less


The time of year is a busy one for most peo­ple, in­clud­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions that help Moose Jaw’s less for­tu­nate.

River­side Mis­sion is gear­ing up to host its Christ­mas din­ner and to send mail outs to raise money. Also, as the busy sea­son gets go­ing, the mis­sion’s di­rec­tor, Scott El­ger, will be tak­ing to the streets to try to raise aware­ness about home­less­ness and ed­u­cate him­self fur­ther about the strug­gles of those fac­ing it.

“I am go­ing to spend the night out on the streets,” he said.

Start­ing Tues­day, El­ger will spend three nights out on the streets of the city where he will have limited re­sources avail­able to him, sim­i­lar to many of the clients he as­sists.

“I can only avail my­self of what’s avail­able to peo­ple who come off the streets to the mis­sion,” he said.

Dur­ing the day El­ger will con­tinue with his reg­u­lar du­ties work­ing at the mis­sion. He ex­plained this is sim­i­lar to what many home­less peo­ple have to deal with in their day-to-day life.

“They still have to live dur­ing the day, even though they don’t have a place to sleep at night,” he said.

El­ger added that he is go­ing to do all that he can to make sure the ex­pe­ri­ence is as real as pos­si­ble.

“I won’t be go­ing home or … let­ting my­self into the mis­sion at three o’clock in the morn­ing be­cause I am cold,” he said.

“I per­son­ally have no streets ex­pe­ri­ence what so ever,” he said.

This year is not the first time that El­ger and the mis­sion have used this type of ex­per­i­ment, how­ever. Last year the mis­sion di­rec­tor spent three evenings on the roof of the mis­sion to try to repli­cate the home­less ex­pe­ri­ence. It did not turn out as he had hoped.

“Be­ing on the roof last year brought us a lot of at­ten­tion, but it didn’t … repli­cate what some of our peo­ple go through, it re­ally back­fired,” he said.

El­ger had orig­i­nally been chal­lenged to step into his clients’s shoes by the staff at the mis­sion, and had con­sid­ered try­ing to sleep in a car. He tries to be sen­si­tive to truly home­less peo­ple when un­der­tak­ing his ex­per­i­ment.

“I didn’t want to in­sult peo­ple who truly face home­less­ness,” he said. “I am not out there by force, I choose to do it.”

El­ger said that he hopes that what he is do­ing will give him a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of what peo­ple with­out a place to stay go through, specif­i­cally, peo­ple who, be­cause of se­vere ad­dic­tions or other men­tal health is­sues, can­not be helped by River­side Mis­sion. El­ger ad­mits his ex­pe­ri­ence is not com­pletely au­then­tic.

“I don’t have all the in­se­cu­ri­ties that truly home­less peo­ple have, it comes to an end when I de­cide it does, and they don’t have that,” he said.

El­ger said that he also hopes to raise aware­ness about some of the needs that River­side Mis­sion is fac­ing go­ing into the fu­ture. The mis­sion has some big cap­i­tal ex­penses com­ing up, in­clud­ing work on their boiler. It costs $30,000 a month to keep the mis­sion and all the pro­grams it puts on go­ing. With all of these cur­rent and fu­ture costs, El­ger said he hopes what he is do­ing will also get some pub­lic at­ten­tion.

“Hope­fully it will gar­ner the at­ten­tion of the me­dia, and it’ll bring at­ten­tion to the mis­sion,” he said. “Christ­mas is one of our fundrais­ing times.”


Scott El­ger, di­rec­tor of River­side Mis­sion, will be on the streets of Moose Jaw start­ing Tues­day and end­ing Thurs­day to raise aware­ness about home­less­ness and hope­fully learn some things him­self.

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