Bioethics Blogs

Wait a Minute…

Deborah Woolway invites us to take a minute to think about homeless and at-risk youth to whom we owe a duty of care and kindness.


Millions of Canadians donate to charitable and non-profit organizations. In 2010, total contributions exceeded $10.6 billion. At this time of year, when there are many worthy causes vying for our attention and our money, I want to draw your attention to the work of one non-profit community based organization in Halifax, Nova Scotia called Phoenix Youth Programs. And, I want to do so with a story, one that may be familiar to you.

house in winter 1 Paul Muller-Kaempff

Paul Müller-Kaempff, Winter auf dem Darß

I was hurrying across a parking lot at a local mall the other day; I detest shopping at the best of times, and this was going to be a kamikaze raid. On my way in, I saw a young man, about 17, dressed like all teenagers – baggy jeans, a hoodie, ballcap pulled low.

“Can you help me?”

“I’m in a bit of a rush, sorry.”

He nodded, and moved away.

And I felt like crap.

I was angry with myself for reacting the way I did. I was angry at the thought he felt he had nowhere to turn. I felt useless. What good was ten bucks going to make in his life?

He was walking across the parking lot when I came out of the mall. This time, I stopped, and asked him to tell me his story: grew up poor in rural Nova Scotia, kicked out of the home at 15, had been into drugs, but said he knew better, didn’t finish school because, well, among other things, it’s hard doing homework when you’re sleeping on a park bench.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.