One Abbotsford volunteer was presented with a humanitarian award over Labour Day Weekend for the service he has freely given to help the city’s most vulnerable people.
Herman Mann won the Drug War Survivors’ Humanitarian Award for his years of service to the homeless community during an Overdose Awareness Day event at Jubilee Park on Saturday.
“I always emphasize the little things. The little things go a long way in making these connections. In the end, we’re all just people,” Mann said. “You don’t have to be an expert in the field to know how to talk to people.”
The event named, ‘Celebration of Life: Picnic in the Park,’ was attended by Mayor Henry Braun, Abbotsford’s many non-profits and over a hundred others.
“To all those who are on the front lines bringing care to those who are vulnerable, to those who have overdosed and supporting their families, we thank you,” Braun said during a speech.
Mann started working with Drug War Survivors as part of a practicum for a criminology degree at UFV, but when it ended, he asked to stay on and continue the work.
“It’s crazy, like no other volunteer does this stuff,” said Drug War Survivors program co-ordinator Amanda Bonella. “It’s seemingly simple the things he does, but the impact is massive.”
Mann was responsible for organizing meals every Tuesday and Thursday but he also took on managing phones six months ago. The Drug War Survivors peer network all have phones to quickly intervene when an overdose is occurring, a huge responsibility according to Bonella.
When asked where his passion for the work comes from, Mann reflected on being raised by just his mother and how an eviction once forced them to the streets.
“Even for that little while, even as a five-year-old, that was very insightful in to how quickly these things can happen,” he said. “Being on the verge of homelessness is something that I think exists in the back of everyone’s mind.”