Paul Croutch – The Day of the Homeless
Paul Croutch lived a difficult life and died, tragically, from poverty and intolerance. His death was the result of a vicious beating administered by intoxicated soldiers from an armoury near the Good Neighbours’ Club, the closest thing he had to a home.
Croutch had more problems than friends, but those who were able to get close to him remember him for his quick mind and a fine sense of humour. Many of them gathered this past Tuesday to honour their friend and mark the First Annual Day of the Homeless, an event to remind us all that each of us is born with the right to dignity.
There were so many who gave of their time and efforts to make the day a great success. Citytv’s Roger Petersen was a fabulous host, keeping the proceedings moving and engaging the crowd. Club members loved having the man they so often welcomed into the club via their television screen a part of their special day.
MP’s Gerard Kennedy and Dan McTeague both rearranged their days on about 16 hours notice to be part of the event when former Lieutenant Governor James Bartleman, who was supposed to speak, was unable to attend because of an urgent and unexpected matter that arose.
Both Kennedy and McTeague spoke passionately and articulately, as they have so often for the voiceless and the downtrodden. They also pledged to continue their support for the Good Neighbours’ Club having had a chance to talk to the members and hear more about their lives.
Councillor Paula Fletcher represented the City of Toronto and brought the house down with a fiery speech that advocating justice for all. The City provided the generous gift of the building in which The Good Neighbours’ Club lives.
Chief Bill Blair at The Good Neighbours’ Club
Metro Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair talked about the hardships so many who live on the streets face. Blair is the Vice Patron of Good Neighbours’ Club. Its Patron is Lieutenant Governor David Onley.
The eleven Good Neighbours’ Club members who have died over the last year were honoured with a Lament by a Metro Toronto Police Piper and a moment of silence which followed. And then, as we hoped they would have wanted it, a barbecue followed, made possible thanks to a local Metro grocery department and the charm of Alex Zsager.
Alex Zsager was once a club member and is now on the Good Neighbours’ Staff.
As always, I am profoundly grateful to Deborah Keegan who put a great amount of time and heart into The Day of the Homeless, as she does into each and every project. Both Deb and I are so thankful that Paul Croutch’s friend Ray May, a Good Neighbours’ Club member, was so willing to talk to the media and to share insight into Croutch’s life and death.
Ray did about a dozen interviews (about 30 media stories that we know of appeared) including The Toronto Star, The Toronto Sun, Metro, and 24hrs, CBC television, CBC radio, Radio Canada, Global News, and of course, Citytv.
Babble On is privileged to have donated its services to be part of this special day. Thank you for letting us help you honour one of your own, a man who died tragically but whose death may prevent the deaths of others.
Let’s hope so anyway.