Public Response to Peace Arch News Article Published Nov. 1 & 4, 2021

This statement addresses the article titled "Surrey, White Rock business owners describe struggles with 'undesirables'" published on November 1st, 2021 (digitally) and 4th, 2021 (in print) in Peace Arch News Paper.

WorldServe Thrift Store has had a few of our customers and supporters express concern regarding the content of this article, and we greatly appreciate them bringing this to our attention. This article was particularly disappointing to us, as it misattributed statements and failed to provide a factual context for this conversation. It is important to note that the paper did not interview us, they did not seek permission or confirmation, and we provided no attributable comments. What the journalist suggests in this article in no way reflects WorldServe values. We feel it is necessary to respond to address the inaccurate reporting that has taken place and provide the true purpose behind this meeting and WorldServe Thrift Store's participation in it.

On October 27th, 2021, WorldServe Thrift Store participated in a government chamber meeting led by our municipal representatives, including local businesses and the RCMP. The meeting was held to discuss public safety for patrons and staff in the White Rock and South Surrey area. Several recent incidents have caused us to be more concerned for our employees' and patrons' safety. Our staff has been abused, physically accosted, had violent threats uttered, and endured unbelievable verbal remarks that affront all decency. The topic of the meeting was to discuss safety concerns due to recent incidents, not homelessness.

During the meeting, WorldServe advocated to preserve dignity for people facing/struggling with homelessness. The reference to "riff-raff" was used as an attempt to describe those who enter the store consumed by rage, evidencing serious harmful tendencies to themselves and others, incapacitated by alcohol and becoming abusive, etc. WorldServe acknowledges that a better term could have been used and will strive to use different languages in the future. However, we are outraged that this quote has been misconstrued to reflect WorldServe Thrift Store's view on non-housed people. The discussion surrounding safety concerns arose from individuals of all facets of our society and was not regarding homelessness.

WorldServe loves and cares for those facing homelessness regularly. We offer clothing, backpacks, supplies, taxis (when needed), food, drinks, etc., to non-housed people. A homeless person was looking for a sweater recently, and WorldServe Thrift Store gave this individual a coat off our rack, as we frequently do for those who obviously need it. Additionally, donations that we receive are shared with homeless shelters in the White Rock Area when need is expressed. We also partner with organizations that provide care and support towards those enduring homelessness (Sources Woman's Shelters, The Food Bank, Gift and Share, Rotary Club, etc.). We love all of the people in our stores and always strive to offer equal care, dignity, and respect to everyone. We also have WorldServe staff who have spent many years in homelessness support and advocacy, creating housing, providing care and love, celebrating the dignity and worth of all people at municipal, provincial and federal levels of engagement.

WorldServe is very disappointed in the inaccurate portrayal and will work with the Peace Arch News to address our issues with the article. As an organization, we love all people who come into our stores and live in our communities, especially those in need.

Please be patient with us as we address this unfortunate situation. We encourage Peace Arch News to revise its article to reflect the genuine conversation that took place.

WorldServe Thrift Store