Downtown PA business leaving art, writing supplies for homeless people behind building

Mathew Derworiz and Adreanna Boucher flipped the Jam Street Music Sessions building, at 1026 First Avenue West, into a multi-use arts space. -- Jayda Taylor/Daily Herald

A downtown business is leaving art and writing supplies at a spot behind its building where people living on the streets tend to gather.

Adreanna Boucher with the Jam Street Shared Arts Space said it’s been a constant dilemma – although she was tired of cleaning up garbage, needles and feces, it didn’t feel fair to tell them to leave.

“I found myself thinking one night, ‘Well, what can I do about it?’ It’s too bad people don’t have many options on places to go, for one reason or another. It just seems unkind to tell people to beat it,” she said.

“I can’t save the world; I can’t open a shelter; I can’t offer treatment programs, but I can give these little tools that might make someone’s day a little better in some small way.”

Boucher first left supplies, such as notebooks, pencils and pencil crayons, behind the building a month ago. Within two days, all of it was gone.

“Maybe it will help in some little way. Maybe it will offer some constructive occupation,” she thought.

Boucher also posted a sign telling people they’re welcome to sit there, as long as they’re respectful. She also left a folder, telling them that if they want to share their work, she would hang it in the window.

Since then, the mess has decreased.

“I think respect is a give and take thing, so if you show some respect, then you get some in return.”

Boucher said she hasn’t spoken to anyone since she left out the supplies. However, she has had several interactions with the group before that.

One man, in particular, apologized and offered to help her clean up.

“We know that what leads to people who make the life choices that they do that lead them to be in the streets so often is derived from trauma,” she said.

“I’ve never been on the streets, but I have dealt with depression myself and I know the feeling of just not caring.”

According to a 2022 Point-in-Time count, 120 people identify as homeless in Prince Albert – that’s up from 77 in 2018. The true number, though, could be up to 200, according to the Riverbank Development Corporation.

The Jam Street Shared Arts Space provides a spot for hosting workshops, poetry readings, rehearsals and meetings.

Boucher put out a call on its Facebook pages for donations of leftover school supplies. Anyone interested in giving supplies for the initiative can message the Facebook page or contact Boucher at (306) 961-3369.