Just as Chrissy Deye is about to head down to the Travelodge motel in Salmon Arm to check on the homeless people she’s been helping during the cold weather, her phone buzzes.
She receives notice that someone she knows from the Lower Mainland has just donated $500 towards the motel bill. She’s overwhelmed.
Dan Sallis, who’s been providing his support as well, is equally amazed by the size of the gift.
The motel rooms have been rented since Monday, Feb. 4, so it’s now been well over a week. Deye is not sure how long it will last.
“Day by day, I’m trusting that’s what we’re supposed to be doing,” she says. “God wants them inside, right? Saturday night I had no money for rooms, Sunday I had money.”
Deye says a man and woman from the Coast who she helped get inside years ago have already donated twice.
She recounts when she received a panicked call from the man’s spouse several years ago saying he was suicidal – he had been struck by two cars when high on crack cocaine and nobody stopped.
“What broke him was that nobody stopped, not that he was hit by the cars.”
Deye says it’s important people understand that by helping one person, there’s a ripple effect all these years later.
“Now he’s in a position with a job, a house and is able to give back to our community.”
If you want to help people, you have to walk alongside them, she emphasizes. If you want people to give up addictions, then you have to give them something to replace hanging around other addicts.
“Go for coffee with them, look in on them.”
If they’re still high, don’t judge them, she says. “So you take them right where they are… Just love them; that love makes a difference.”
Sallis, who was homeless for a summer, talks about what a difference having a roof over your head makes, being able to have a shower. Already, there’s a difference in the people staying in the motel.
“You get so much dignity back. You almost resemble a human being again.”
Deye also compliments the Travelodge.
“There’s a kindness there,” she says.
Savi Sandhu, who works at the motel, says he thinks people on the street deserve help. He also says this group has not been a problem.
“It’s been good… There was one incident but it was all sorted out.”
Sandu says people have been generous.
“Strangers will call and we put money on the room. I think around 10 people have called.”