Homelessness truly touches us all. This is Doug’s story.
“In the words of my grandmother, ‘We’re in this together’, so I encourage you to help make someone’s life a little bit better.”Doug Johnson, Keyboard player for “Loverboy” and longtime Surrey resident
I’ve been a Surrey resident almost my entire life. I went to elementary and high school here. It’s where I first started piano lessons. It’s the place my family and I now call home, so the health and well-being of my community is something I care very much about.
When I was a kid, I hung out with my grandmother who emigrated from Sweden in the 1920’s. She used to tell me stories of her life on the prairies during the Great Depression. My grandfather was a very stoic man and never liked to talk about those years.
With virtually no money, a dusty plot of land and the sweat of their brow, my grandparents toughed it out during the great depression in Saskatchewan. There were catastrophic crop failures, swarms of locusts, and devastating dust storms – yet through it all they had each other. When one family ran out of food, others would pitch in and share. These immigrant pioneers may not have understood each other’s languages, but they shared the universal values of kindness and compassion. They created their own safety net. ‘We’re in this together’ is what they’d say.
Later in life as my musical career developed, I would think about these stories when, after playing gigs downtown late at night, I would see people, down on their luck, struggling on our city sidewalks. Occasionally, I would drive one of these folks to a hospital or a shelter. I decided that one day I would do whatever I could to help people who fall down get back on their feet.
In 1986, I recorded a song with eight other Canadian musicians called “Action Speaks Louder Than Words.” The proceeds went to food banks across the country and helped create awareness of the rising need for food banks.
It troubles me that a growing number of people who use the Surrey Food Bank every month are now seniors. These are people who worked hard, raised kids and now, because of circumstances and the high cost of living, have to decide between food or rent.
Nowadays, we might not have locust swarms, dust storms, or crops failures, but there are thousands of seniors in our community who need a safety net. In the words of my grandmother, ‘We’re in this together’, so if you can, I encourage you to help make someone’s life a little bit better. Please support the Surrey Homelessness and Housing Society. By giving to this worthwhile organization, you are supporting a variety of homelessness initiatives in Surrey.