A Walk in Other’s Shoes is returning to this year’s Week of Action Against Poverty. This challenge is being undertaken by individuals in the community who have interests within the health field. Participants have been asked to attempt to stay within a social assistance benefits’ budget. A single person on Ontario Works would receive $337 monthly for all of their personal needs and $384 for all of their shelter costs. Because participants cannot replicate the housing conditions realistically, shelter costs are not included within this challenge. For the five day challenge, participants will have $11 daily to cover all food and drink, entertainment, some personal supplies and transportation costs. Each day, every participant will be given a challenge card which will reveal an unexpected challenge to be completed before the end of the day.

A Walk in Other’s Shoes is not a competitive challenge. It is a challenge that raises awareness of the hurdles that people living on social assistance face daily. As we within our community develop our own understanding, we can begin to reduce the barriers that they encounter and ultimately increase opportunities for increased prosperity for all. The challenge takes place February 10th-14th, 2018.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Feb. 14, 2018- my final blog

Today was my last day of the poverty challenge, which I'm not sad to see come but am so very grateful for experiencing.
I packed my usual lunch before heading to the office, but was pleasantly surprised with the donated pizza provided for all the staff. I don't normally eat pizza, however there were 2 gluten free options which I most certainly wasn't going to turn down.
I have learned so much on this challenge. I learned for one that I have become a convenience shopper. Instead of stopping at another store to save substantial amounts on a product, I just buy it all at one store to save time. Not anymore. I will only buy Dairyland milk for my family now as Shoppers and Walmart only accept that brand of milk jugs to collect your .25 cent deposit. In the past, I have thrown all milk containers in the recycle. You add that up over the course of a month or a year, and that's a lot of wasted money. I will buy what's on my list instead of adding extra items which I don't need. But the most important thing I will do is, after spending 5 days closed off without being able to connect with friends and family, if someone takes the time to text and are therefore clearly thinking of me, and I can take the time to read it, I will respond. If I don't have time to respond, I wont bother opening it until I can.
I noticed with all of my challenge cards, there wasn't anything positive that happened to me. I honestly believe that if everyday bad things keep happening to you, you need to send out different vibes into the universe, cause even if just nothing bad happens, that's a good day.
When looking at the world now, I see a lot more oranges, reds and yellows but at the same time see some blacks and greys. If we all did one thing each day to try to improve someone's day, a relative, co-worker or a strangers life, they too are likely to do the same. Not necessarily in a monetary way, just something to make them smile and feel good about themselves, a kind word even, this world would be a better place.

Feb 14, 2018- the last day, the last challenge

|Happy Valentine's Day!
My day started at 5, as per norm, got up and had a mug of my instant coffee, packed my lunch up, which will be chicken burger, veggies n rice as I didn't need to have it for supper last night. Took my dog for a walk then opened my challenge envelope.
I have cut myself and do not have any band aids so what will I do? First of all I would run it under water to clean it. I would apply pressure with toilet paper. It doesn't specify how big a cut but if I can use a band aid it cant be that bad, lol. I have wonderful neighbours so if the applying pressure did not work, I would ask one of them. They most certainly would give me one.
I had just over $12 left from my $55 this morning, so when Safeway opened, as I had planned all week, I walked there and bought a package of nicely decorated sugar cookies which were on sale for $3.99 for my daughter and son in law for Valentines Day. I have made them coupons for various things like an evening of babysitting at their place etc to go with the treats.
My son and husband love cinnamon buns, so I bought some pilsbury cinnamon buns that come with icing and will bake them for them today before they get home from work. I made them coupons as well. My son loves video games, I'm not a fan. One of his coupons is for me to play video games with him for a maximum of 2 hours though, lol. My husband has a very physical job so one of his coupons is for a back rub.
I made Valentine hearts from construction paper I had around the house for each of my grand babies. My shopping adventure the other night I found a little cloth bag stamped with butterflies and flowers, that came with markers. Sophie will love it and can colour it and carry her treasures around in it. She loves stamps, like most 5 year old girls, so I also bought her a little package of Valentine stamps. Harper always has her hair in a little pony tail on top so I got her some hair elastics that are soo cute. She loves yogurt so she's getting one of those too. She won't be 2 until June so she will be happy with that. And Caleb got a little cardboard book about farm animals. He's only 2 1/2months old.
I'm pretty excited about giving everyone their gifts. Oh and I bought chocolate hearts for my son as well as daughter doesn't like chocolates if you can imagine!!!!
I asked at Safeway if I could have a band aid as I had cut myself......they said sure. I didn't take it, told them after it was just a little test as part of a challenge I was doing :)
I have $4.55 remaining. I'm going to stop at Shell on my way home from work and buy my husband a French vanilla coffee.
Life is good.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

nearing the end

I have figured out what I would do for my Nephew, who turned ten today, the challenge presented to me this morning. I would make him a home made birthday card with an IOU written inside for a Saturday afternoon sliding date. I would take him to the Kenora Public Library tonight, which is open until 8pm on Tuesdays and we could spend some time together. They have a wii available for use, puzzles, games, even legos. He is a little old but today at 430, they had a story hour followed by a craft. All of these activities are free of charge. They allow internet use for up to an hour once per day provided you have a library card and a piece of ID. Maybe my nephew would want to check out some utube. Kids seem to be into that these days. We could share some quality time together, something which can't be purchased. Kids always seem to remember things they have done, not who bought them what.

Today for supper I had something different! I had some coleslaw and pulled pork, without the bun, and a rice krispie square.
I assisted at the supper served at Jubilee tonight and was offered a meal. There was a lot left over, but will not be wasted. Its kept for another time, I believe they freeze it actually.
Learned a lot about different programs offered in town to aid in helping out those in need. So many wonderful, caring, good hearted people in our little City.
I'm not sad that tomorrow is my last day on this challenge, but at the same time, I am glad I participated in it. So many things we take for granted. Everyone should take a step back, the world looks different now.
Been a wonderful day!
Gotta sign out, I have Valentine gifts to get ready.
I suspect I will sleep much better tonight.

Tuesday Feb 13, 2018- day 4

I didn't sleep well last night. I'm kind of a why girl. I don't normally have daily contact with my family and friends, sometimes go days or weeks without hearing from some of them, but for some reason during this challenge, that is what I have found to be a huge obstacle for me. I have gone off on many adventures, including to China, where I travelled alone, and did not have contact with them, yet the past 3 days have seemed like weeks, leaving me with the question, why?

On a typical Tuesday, I would get up at 5 am, just like today, and be at the Kenora Rec Centre for 6 am where I would participate in a cross training class, which on an OW budget, I wouldn't be able to attend. I love to exercise in the mornings, it puts a little spring in my step and makes everyday look better. Decided since it doesn't seem as cold today and the weather forecast on the radio says its only -29 with the wind chill, I'm gonna take my dog for his usual early morning walk but it's going to be a bit longer. He doesn't mind if its cold or not. I get my winter wear on and go to saddle up big Thor, and the answer to my question hits me.....its my choice or lack there of choices that I am struggling with. Its my choice to have a dog, who is part of my family, which I would not have on the challenge I am on as I could not afford to feed him. Its my choice to be able to call or text my family and friends whenever I want to, or not, lol, when I am not on this OW budget, as I have a cell phone with unlimited everything like most other people. People on such a limited budget do not have many choices.....

My challenge card this morning says, its my 10 year old nephews birthday. How will you help him celebrate it?
I'm going to start by making him a birthday card from paper I have at home. I know the library is open today from 9am-8pm. They often have programs going on. I will call the library from work today to see what they have to offer. If I were not working today, I would walk to the library to check it out.
My breakfast today is going to be yet again, boiled eggs. I will have my apple as a snack, and for lunch, tuna, rice and vegetable concoction. I am part of Making Kenora Home so tonight as part of action against poverty week, I will be serving at Jubilee after work. Perhaps I will also attend the meal service to change it up from the chicken burger, rice and vegetables.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Feb. 12, 2018- day 3 challenge completed

So here's what would happen to me, should I have a broken tooth which is causing me pain, and I'm on Ontario Works, the challenge presented to me in this mornings envelope.
Each month OW sends you a drug as well as a dental card.
I would need to make a dental appointment, explaining my circumstances. I would need to bring the dental card with me to the dental office. OW allows up to an annual maximum of $600. Anything over and above that requires approval with the dental office needing to provide an estimate which the patient must give to their case manager. The claim for my appointment is submitted to the Health Unit by the dental office. So, I would say the challenge is complete.

This afternoon I saw my daughter briefly. Was nice to see her and got a few hugs in.
I walked to bargain shop as well as Dollarama to find Valentine's gifts for my grand children late this afternoon. The wind was brutally cold! My ears were burning even through my toque. I had been home for about and hour and they were still hurting.
I have $12.35 left now. I have a plan of what I will do for my Husband, son, daughter as well as son in law, provided I still have money left on Wednesday morning. Depends on what the next 2 days challenges are. I'm making them something but also want to purchase secret right now.
Funny, when I was leaving Dollarama tonight, I found a dime on the ground, also found a small white feather earlier in my day. Both made me smile and gave me a little strength. Anyone who knows me knows what I think feathers and dimes mean.

Too cold to walk over to see my grand children tonight and no city buses run after 6. Maybe tomorrow.
I continue to struggle with not hearing from my closest friends and my family members. I miss them.
That has been the hardest part of this challenge. It's easier for me to tolerate the repetitive menu, and the static in my clothes, the crazy hair and dry skin than to not talk with my sisters, my daughter, and my friends. I'm thankful I have my Husband and Son here with me. I'm supposed to be taking on the challenge of a single person on OW. I don't know how they do it, day after day all alone.

Feb 12, 2018- Day 3

This morning my plan was to walk to the track to go for a run, however quickly changed my mind when I heard the weather on the radio...."Extreme cold warning in effect. -33, with a wind chill of -42". I like to do my work outs first thing in the morning as that's when my energy is at its highest, it improves my day, and its done and over with. I decided to pull out my insanity max dvd that my daughter bought me 2years ago for Mother's Day. What a workout, and without touching my wallet.
For breakfast today I will have 3 hard boiled eggs, an apple as a mid morning snack.
I just opened my challenge card envelope. It says I have broken my tooth and its very painful. What can you do about it?
If I were in this position, I would call a dental office, most open between 8 and 8:30am, and try to make an appointment, letting them know my situation and see if they can make me an appointment. Thinking about this now, I might not have a phone so depending on where I live, there are a couple phone booths in town which I could use, one for sure at the Shell station. If I didn't have any change, I could try the walk in approach, as a last resort, showing up as soon as they open....explain I did not have a phone, and what my predicament was, and perhaps they would tell me I was welcome to sit and wait to be seen but not sure of how long a wait that would be as others who have scheduled appointments would be seen first.
I am employed as a Dental Assistant and am aware that Ontario Works does provide assistance in this case. I will get the full details today when I get to work and let you know the outcome.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

day 2 challenge completed

Today went relatively well. I went for a walk after breakfast, came home and had an apple for a snack. I learned many uses for dish soap including, doing laundry and cleaning my bathroom. I did some more work on my jigsaw puzzle to pass some time before heading out to Sunset country square dancing group. My husband and I joined in January, its every Sunday at the rec centre in the New Horizons Seniors Centre from 1:30-3. Its a lot of fun, and very inexpensive. The total cost from January until the end of April is $10 per person, so about .50 cents per class, which fits my budget nicely. The group is not just for Seniors, clearly. Any age is welcome. It was just what I needed today as I am REALLY missing my friends and family. We learned some new dances and had some laughs. Really great group of people with the patience of Saints I tell you. An added bonus, they always have little toffees or suckers out to help yourself to, for no fee. I had a couple toffees. They tasted so good! I was given a gift when we got there of 3 nice hand made dish clothes from one of the ladies. What a thoughtful bunch of people.
I was feeling a bit self conscious of my appearance before we left the house. I'm not a big make up person, I use only eye liner and bronzing beads, but didn't buy any with my $55. Oh natural for me. My hair is absolutely wild! Guessing the combination of using a cheap 2-1 shampoo and conditioner ($2) combined with no hair products to tame this naturally curly mess gives me the Dianna Ross look. I hate it. I kept it in a French braid yesterday and a bun today.
 The walk home from square dancing was worse than the walk there. The wind was terribly cold. It wasn't that cold this morning. I had intentions of walking over to my daughters house after square dancing, to go and see my grandchildren but I had no way of knowing if they were actually home and didn't want to walk all that way in the cold only to turn around and walk back. Kinda wish now I would have. Miss their little faces. Going to walk there tomorrow night.
I have been able to meet my challenge of not being able to use my broken stove to cook my meals by using my microwave. Somebody must be watching out for me by my deciding to prepare extra yesterday. For lunch today I had a 1/2 can of tuna, some warmed up rice and mixed vegetables {broccoli, cauliflower and carrots}and for supper I had left over lean ground chicken burger, you guessed it, rice and mixed vegetables. Starting to get a little old but its going to be the same meal for tomorrow and the next day I'm thinking. Water is my beverage.
I usually take a multivitamin daily but my budget would not allow for that. I'm scared to spend anymore money on groceries cause I don't know what the next few days challenges will be. If tomorrows challenge card doesn't result in me having to spend a lot of money, I think I'm going to go buy a bag of carrots as well as pick up some valentine treats for my family.
Watched my movies today I took out from the library yesterday. The Interpreter was an amazing movie.
Well, 2 days down, 3 more full ones to go. Wonder what my challenge card will have me conquer tomorrow.....