Author Archives: Mitch Vandenborn

Giving to Support Those in Need: Help The Ottawa Mission Feed the Hungry this Christmas by Donating Frozen Turkeys

Ottawa, ON – As we head into the holiday session, planning is well underway for The Ottawa Mission’s annual Christmas Dinner, which will take place on Sunday, December 19th.

Covid19 protocols to keep shelter guests, community members,
employees and volunteers safe while continuing to deliver essential support remain in place at the shelter. Accordingly, the Christmas meal for shelter guests will begin at 11:00 am in the Mission dining room. The Christmas meal for community members who would otherwise go hungry will be available at the garage entrance beginning at 11:00 am – 3 pm. To continue to support vulnerable community members as much as possible, The Mission will also continue to provide two additional meals for community members to take with them.

The impact of the continuing pandemic on hunger in Ottawa has been profound. In 2020 – 2021, the number of meals served by The Ottawa Mission grew by 40% from the previous year to 727,903 meals to shelter residents and those in need in the community. Because of worsening hunger, the shelter introduced its food truck program in September 2020, which has grown to providing over 3,000 meals each week in 19 locations throughout the city. The week before December 19th, at all food truck stops, The Mission will serve a full Christmas dinner to anyone who requests one. Since September 2020, the food truck has served over 170,000 meals. Because of the addition of the food truck meals, The Mission estimates that it will serve 5,500 – 6,000 holiday meals this year, up from the 2,500 – 3,000 meal totals in previous years before the pandemic.

“It will take 4,500 pounds of turkey, or 250 large turkeys to feed everyone who comes to our special Christmas dinner,” says Chef Ric Watson, Director of Food Services at The Mission. “Our kitchen volunteers and staff are working very hard to ensure that ensure everyone will have a delicious turkey dinner by preparing for this very special event in advance.”

Also on the menu will be: 100 pans of stuffing; 6,000 dinner rolls; 3,000 lbs. peeled potatoes 1,000 lbs. glazed fresh carrots; 150 gallons of gravy; 900 vegetarian quiches; and 6,000 desserts. Frozen turkey donations can be dropped off between 7 am – 5 pm at the garage entrance to The Ottawa Mission at the corner of Waller and Besserer. Please ring the bell and a staffperson will arrive to receive your donation.

About The Ottawa Mission

Since 1906, The Ottawa Mission has been serving those who are homeless, hungry and lost by providing food, clothing, shelter and skills. In 2020-2021, The Ottawa Mission provided emergency shelter to an average of 185 men every night and served an average of 1,994 meals every day. The Ottawa Mission also provides to men and women health services, mental health and addiction treatment programs, hospice care, dental services, housing services, educational support, job training, spiritual care, and clothing to thousands in need in our community. In September 2020, The Ottawa Mission marked the one millionth hour that the shelter has been in existence since its founding in 1906. In 2019, the Mission became a housing-focused shelter reflective of its commitment to a home for everyone as a human right with the launch of its housing department. Visit ottawamission.com to learn more.

FOR INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Aileen Leo
Director of Communications
T 613.234.1144 x 305
E-mail: aleo@ottawamission.com

1 million meals? DYMON steps in to double gifts on Giving Tuesday

It takes strong businesses to support a strong community, and it takes a strong community to support strong businesses. Good companies steward their profits well for the good of customers, employees and the community, and one of those great companies is our partner, DYMON.

The storage solutions company was the naming partner of the expanded DYMON Health Clinic, which opened in 2019. Thanks to Dymon’s generous support, the Dymon Health Clinic provides quality medical and dental care to men and women in the community who may otherwise go without. Last year alone, the Dymon Health Clinic hosted 15,362 primary care appointments. This was a lifeline for many, particularly during the toughest days of the pandemic.

This is part of the reason we nominated DYMON for the AFP “Outstanding Corporate Philanthropist” award, and we weren’t surprised at all when they won. “They have a great leadership team,” says Erin Helmer, our Senior Officer of Corporate Philanthropy and Partnerships. “Dymon is a local company that started here in Ottawa, and they are very passionate about giving back.”

For the past several years, Dymon has been matching Giving Tuesday donations made to The Ottawa Mission. Held on the Tuesday after American Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday is designed as a counterbalance to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s a day focused on spending money for the good of others instead of just on ourselves. This year Giving Tuesday will be on November 30th, and DYMON is ready to double the impact of donors’ gifts once again. In fact, they’re also committed to doubling the gifts made to The Ottawa Mission by any of Dymon’s employees.

As Dymon has grown, they’ve continued to evolve. They started off developing premier storage facilities and have expanded into home décor retail for storage-related needs and into custom closet and kitchen design and installation. Dymon has recently expanded into Toronto, and they show no signs of slowing down.

Even as Dymon expands beyond its original borders, they remain committed to Ottawa and its needs. “They don’t ever forget their roots and where they started,” says Erin. “They continue to be wonderful partners of The Ottawa Mission.”

This year’s Giving Tuesday funds will support the most immediate need in our community: the shocking rise in hunger. The need for meals has climbed more than 80% since the beginning of the pandemic. Before then, we were serving over 1,400 meals a day. With the surge of hunger and instability caused by COVID-19, we now serve about 2,500 meals a day. If current trends continue, that could mean almost 1 million meals needed in the coming year, right here in Ottawa.

With companies like DYMON investing in the community, we can meet this level of need. And thanks to programs in mental health and addiction treatment, job training, education and housing supports, we are working hard to reverse the trends. It’s always a good time to invest in these programs, but thanks to the DYMON match, your gift on Giving Tuesday will go twice as far.

Ottawa Mission graduates first class of Food Services students trained at “Chef Ric’s”

More than 90% of graduating students secure employment in the food services industry

Ottawa, ON – Today the first class of Food Services Training Program (FSPT) students trained within “Chef Ric’s”, The Ottawa Mission’s new social enterprise housed within the former Rideau Bakery, received their diplomas. Of the 13 graduates for this class, 12 have found employment in the sector.

One of those graduates is Erica Lafrance. A survivor of abuse and violence, she relocated to Ottawa with her children to rebuild her life. When she heard about the FSTP, she knew it would help her get back on her feet. “When I first heard about Chef Ric’s, there was something very comforting about it. I love the community feel of Chef Ric’s. There’s compassion and there’s heart here. Because of this program, I’m in the driver’s seat of my own life now.” Erica is working at a local restaurant and couldn’t be happier.

The FSTP is the creation of Chef Ric Allen-Watson, The Mission’s Director of Food Services. Finding himself alone and homeless at age 14, he knows the power of paying it forward. “Someone reached out to me and showed me that education could help. And that why I started this program: to give people the help they need to rebuild their lives.”

Since the inception of the FSTP in 2004, 203 people have graduated from the program, 90% of whom have gone on to positions in the food services industry. In September 2021, operations for the FSTP were moved from the shelter to Chef Ric’s to add more space and train up to 75 people each year, doubling the capacity of the program.

“As Ottawa gradually emerges from the pandemic, we anticipate that The Ottawa Mission will remain the first place of refuge for increasing numbers of very vulnerable people going forward for the next several years. By expanding this incredibly successful program at Chef Ric’s, we’re doing our part to help even more people in need,” Ottawa Mission CEP Peter Tilley concluded.

About The Ottawa Mission

Since 1906, The Ottawa Mission has been serving those who are homeless, hungry and lost by providing food, clothing, shelter and skills. In 2020-2021, The Ottawa Mission provided emergency shelter to an average of 185 men every night and served an average of 1,994 meals every day.  The Ottawa Mission also provides to men and women health services, mental health and addiction treatment programs, hospice care, dental services, housing services, educational support, job training, spiritual care, and clothing to thousands in need in our community. In September 2020, The Ottawa Mission marked the one millionth hour that the shelter has been in existence since its founding in 1906. In 2019, the Mission became a housing-focused shelter reflective of its commitment to a home for everyone as a human right with the launch of its housing department. Visit ottawamission.com to learn more.

FOR INFORMATION OR TO ARRANGE AN INTERVIEW PLEASE CONTACT:

Aileen Leo
Director of Communications
T 613.234.1144 x 305
613-712-3092
E-mail: aleo@ottawamission.com

Continuing to Help Those in Need: Ottawa Mission Served 6189 Meals to Those Who Are Hungry This Thanksgiving

Ottawa, ON – During The Ottawa Mission’s annual Thanksgiving dinner program, which was held on October 12th as well as the week prior to Thanksgiving through the shelter’s food truck program, The Mission served 6189 meals. On any given day, The Ottawa Mission serves over 2,500 meals to shelter residents and those in need in the community. During special meals such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, The Mission provides 5,000 – 6,000 meals for those who would otherwise go hungry.

“It takes 4,000 pounds of turkey to feed everyone during our special Thanksgiving dinner,” noted Chef Ric Watson, Director of Food Services at The Mission. Also on the menu was: dinner rolls (5,000); peeled potatoes (2500 lbs); glazed fresh carrots (1000 lbs); gravy (150 gallons); vegetarian quiche (900); individually wrapped desserts (5,000).

Despite being a wealthy city, Ottawa has some of the highest rates of hidden hunger in the province. The riding of Rideau-Vanier where The Mission is located has the highest use of food banks in Ontario. As well, Ottawa South and Ottawa West-Nepean are among the 10 ridings with the most food bank users per capita.

Food insecurity contributes to poor mental health, diabetes and heart disease. In 2020 – 2021, The Mission served 727,903 meals to those who would otherwise go hungry, the highest number in the shelter’s history. If current trends continue, the shelter will deliver 900,000 – 1 million meals in 2021 – 2022.

The continuing pandemic, now in its 20th month, has made hunger in our community much worse. This is one reason why The Mission launched its food truck program, which delivers over 3,000 meals per week at 19 community partner locations across the city to ensure that those who cannot travel to the shelter due to disability, lack of funds for transportation, or other reasons do not go hungry. The shelter is working to expand this program is response to overwhelming community need.

“Poverty, homelessness and food insecurity are serious public health issues. We at the Ottawa Mission are doing our part to address hunger and keep people healthy through our meal program,” said Ottawa Mission CEO Peter Tilley. “Our kitchen volunteers and staff worked very hard to ensure that everyone had a delicious turkey dinner. And our donors and supporters have been profoundly generous in their support. A huge thank you to all,” Tilley concluded.

About The Ottawa Mission

Since 1906, The Ottawa Mission has been serving those who are homeless, hungry and lost by providing food, clothing, shelter and skills. In 2020-2021, The Ottawa Mission provided emergency shelter to an average of 185 men every night and served an average of 1,994 meals every day.  The Ottawa Mission also provides health services, mental health and addiction treatment programs, hospice care, dental services, housing services, educational support, job training, spiritual care, and clothing to thousands of men and women in need in our community. In September 2020, The Ottawa Mission marked the one millionth hour that the shelter has been in existence since its founding in 1906. In 2019, the Mission became a housing-focused shelter reflective of its commitment to a home for everyone as a human right with the launch of its housing department. Visit ottawamission.com to learn more.

FOR INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Aileen Leo

Director of Communications

T 613.234.1144 x 305

C 613.712.3092

aleo@ottawamission.com

Shaw Centre’s world-class food donations boost morale for clients

The Shaw Centre in Ottawa was recently honoured with the international APEX award for the World’s Best Convention Centre. Located downtown on the Rideau Canal, the beautiful facility hosts a wide variety of conferences and events. A world-class centre requires world-class meals, and Executive Chef Patrick Turcot does not disappoint.

Although things have looked very different during the pandemic, the Shaw Centre adapted to serve their clients while still remembering the less fortunate in our community. Every month, they donate food to our shelter — everything from egg rolls and samosas to cinnamon buns and smoked meat brisket.

“We’re happy to help those in need in our community by providing diverse and quality meals,” says Chef Patrick. “Knowing the food isn’t going to waste but is going to those who need it makes us feel good at the end of the day.”

In the past few months, the donations have been a huge help in feeding the shelter guests and community clients who turn to us for meals. We always aim to provide quality meals to our clients, and the fresh, local contributions from Chef Patrick and his team are a huge help.

Recent donations of waffles, sausages, turkey bacon were used in the daily breakfasts, and a donation of vegetarian mini burgers provided a delicious vegetarian option for a lunch entrée. Donated bread was used to make toast and sandwiches, and a large donation of salad dressing meant that we didn’t have to buy any for several weeks.

With so many more people turning to us for meals during the pandemic, the Shaw Centre’s donations make a significant difference. Currently, between our community meal program and Mobile Mission Meals food truck, we serve over 2,000 meals a day. “They have been a big help in meeting the increased demand we have had of late,” confirms Chef Percy Belford, the Manager of Kitchen Services at The Mission. “These donations have been a real morale booster for our clients. It’s great to see the smile on their faces when they see something special on the plate.”

One of the favourite recurring donations among clients are the cookies and squares, which are always a big hit for dessert. Each special treat or unexpected menu item offers our guests something to look forward to during a challenging time.

We’re so grateful at The Mission to have neighbours like the Shaw Centre just a few blocks away. They’re leaders in their industry, and their generosity is making our city a better place for everybody.

 

Diane Morrison Hospice marks 20 years of providing care for homeless community members

Shelter also releases community impact report, including providing 728,000 meals in response to hunger 

 Ottawa, ON – Today, The Ottawa Mission and Ottawa Inner City Health (OICH) marked the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Diane Morrison Hospice to provide palliative care to homeless community members. 

Wendy Muckle, CEO of Ottawa Inner City Health, noted the reason the Hospice was founded. “People who are homeless or street-involved have a much higher burden of serious physical and mental health conditions and addictions. As a result, our clients can die up to 20 years’ earlier than people who have permanent homes. Think of that: because you have no home, your risk of premature death increases dramatically.” 

A fundamental principle of the Hospice is that no one dies alone. The provision of care is based on ensuring the dignity of all people reflective of their inherent value as human beings. The Hospice extends unconditional acceptance to people who are homeless by providing palliative care appropriate to their needs. 

A federal grant enabled OICH and The Mission to establish the Hospice. By bringing care directly to those who are homelessness, the project sought to show that this model of care is more accessible, appropriate, and improves clinical outcomes. “Over the past 20 years, the Hospice has demonstrated this,” Muckle added. 

Dr. Jeffrey Turnbull, OICH Medical Director, noted the evolution of the burden of illness of Hospice patients and the care provided to them. “While 20 years ago AIDS was a major cause of mortality for people who were homeless, with advances in treatment, premature death for this population has dramatically declined. Now, the causes of death are related to the impact of addictions and mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other afflictions. This population suffers from very high rates of alcohol consumption, smoking and other addictions, which leads to cancer, Hepatitis C, and organ failure.” 

While many people within the Hospice die within months, some do not. They have chronic palliative conditions, which have a life expectancy of one year, compared to those patients with terminal conditions which end in premature death within three months or less. With their admission to the Hospice, they receive care, proper nutrition, and other supports, so their health improves and they can return to where they were living before or in new accommodation. “The Hospice has proven that people with lived experience of homelessness who are ill can get better with the proper care and supportive services,” Dr. Turnbull added. 

In addition to providing appropriate and accessible care, the Hospice is also cost-effective. Five years after it opened, a review of the Hospice’s cost-effectiveness was undertaken. This analysis determined that compared to the acute care system where the cost per patient would have been $900 per day, care within the Hospice cost $70 per day. Over the course of one year, cost savings for care were projected for a group of 28 patients at $1.39 million. The Mission and OICH are exploring options to update this analysis based on this evolving context to reflect the current work of the Hospice, combining both acute and chronic palliative care.

 Lynn Landis, Director of Health Services for The Mission, noted the circle of care that the Hospice provides. “We provide a person-centred atmosphere that celebrates the life of our patients. They have personal effects in their rooms, and special celebrations include birthdays and holiday parties. Personal support and peer support workers help patients through assistance with activities of daily living such as feeding and bathing, as well as listening to patients. Many patients have painful conditions such as cancer, and pain and symptom management is essential to ensure their comfort. Managing addiction is also critical. Managed Alcohol and Managed Opioid Programs employ a harm reduction approach through providing patients small amounts of each substance throughout the day. Their physical and psychological symptoms are controlled, and their quality of life is improved.” 

Landis also spoke of the importance of spiritual care, including grief support. “Spiritual pain and loneliness are some of the most profound afflictions of people who are homeless. Many are estranged from their families and have few or no friends. Our circle of care surrounds them, including spiritual support. Our spiritual care team listen to their stories and provide comfort, alleviating their fears. When a patient dies a memorial service is held to allow a patient’s family, friends, Hospice volunteers and colleagues to provide solace to one another,” she added. 

Learn more about The Ottawa Mission’s Hospice at 20

The Mission also released its annual impact report which outlines its community impact over its past fiscal year. Among the most significant responses by the shelter to community need during the pandemic has been a huge increase in the number of meals over last year through its modified community meal service as well as its food truck service. Beginning with five stops delivering 500 meals per week, this food truck service now has 19 locations rotating throughout Ottawa 7 days a week that deliver over 3,000 meals per week. Since it started, the food truck has delivered more than 150,000 meals to people across Ottawa. The Mission also has a waiting list of partners who want to join this program. “This has meant that over our last fiscal year, we served almost 728,000 meals. Every time I think of this figure, I’m blown away by the level of need and the number of people this represents,” noted Mission Director of Food Services Chef Ric Allen-Watson. 

“If current trends continue, this year we’ll deliver between 900,000 and 1 million meals. Every single day our truck goes out across Ottawa, and hundreds of people line up to receive the meals they need to survive. People line up in walkers, in wheelchairs, and with their kids. People who never had to worry about feeding themselves and their families until Covid-19 arrived come to our truck to survive. Food truck clients tell us that they go hungry, sometimes for days, until our truck comes. In a wealthy city like Ottawa, this is wrong – just plain wrong,” Allen-Watson added. 

Despite the ongoing impact of Covid-19, Peter Tilley noted the additional accomplishments of The Mission over the past year, including: 

  • Providing emergency shelter to 1244 people.
  • Finding permanent homes for 144 people.
  • Hosting 15,362 primary care patient consults in its health clinic working with OICH.
  • Having 85 graduations from its Addiction and Trauma Services program, and 39 graduations from its education and job training programs.
  • And work to open “Chef Ric’s”, the Mission’s new social enterprise which expands our successful Food Services Training Program and provides healthy food to people at very affordable prices. 

“Ottawa was already experiencing a homelessness emergency and opioid-use epidemic before COVID-19. Given the impact of the pandemic on our collective mental health, finances, food insecurity and risk of homelessness, we anticipate remaining the first place of refuge for even more vulnerable people after the pandemic has passed,” Tilley concluded. 

Learn more about The Ottawa Mission’s impact

About The Ottawa Mission 

Since 1906, The Ottawa Mission has been serving those who are homeless, hungry and lost by providing food, clothing, shelter and skills. In 2020-2021, The Ottawa Mission provided emergency shelter to an average of 185 men every night and served an average of 1,994 meals every day. The Ottawa Mission also provides to men and women health services, mental health and addiction treatment programs, hospice care, dental services, housing services, educational support, job training, spiritual care, and clothing to thousands in need in our community. In September 2020, The Ottawa Mission marked the one millionth hour that the shelter has been in existence since its founding in 1906. In 2019, the Mission became a housing-focused shelter reflective of its commitment to a home for everyone as a human right with the launch of its housing department. Visit ottawamission.com to learn more. 

FOR INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT
Aileen Leo
Director of Communications
T 613.234.1144 x 305
C. 613-712-3092
E-mail: aleo@ottawamission.com

Giving to Support Those in Need: Help The Ottawa Mission Feed the Hungry this Thanksgiving by Donating Frozen Turkeys

Ottawa, ON – As we head into the fall, planning is well underway for The Ottawa Mission’s annual Thanksgiving Dinner at its shelter, which will take place on Monday, October 11th, and also from October 4 – 11 through its food truck program.

Covid19 protocols to keep shelter guests, community members, employees and volunteers safe while continuing to deliver essential support continue at the shelter. Accordingly, the meal for shelter guests will begin at 11:30 am in the Mission dining room. The Thanksgiving meal for community members will be available at the garage entrance beginning at 11:00 am. To continue to support vulnerable community members as much as possible, The Mission will also continue to provide two additional meals for community members to take with them. The Mission’s food truck program will also serve a full Thanksgiving meals to everyone who accesses this service the week prior to the October 11 meal.

On any given day, The Ottawa Mission serves over 2,500 meals to shelter residents and those in need in the community. Last Thanksgiving, The Mission provided over 5,700 meals for this special occasion for those who would otherwise go hungry.

“It takes about 4,000 pounds of turkey, to feed everyone who comes to our special Thanksgiving dinner,” says Chef Ric Watson, Director of Food Services at The Mission. “Our kitchen volunteers and staff are working very hard to ensure that to ensure everyone will have a delicious turkey dinner by preparing for this very special event in advance.”

Also on the menu will be: mashed potato (2500 lbs); glazed fresh carrots (1000 lbs); vegetarian quiche (900); fresh baked rolls (5,000); giblet gravy (150 gallons); individually wrapped desserts (5000).

Frozen turkey donations can be dropped off between 7 am – 5 pm at the garage entrance to The Ottawa Mission at the corner of Waller and Besserer. Please ring the bell and a staffperson will arrive to receive your donation.

About The Ottawa Mission

Since 1906, The Ottawa Mission has been serving the homeless, the hungry and the lost by providing food, clothing, shelter and skills. In 2019-2020, The Ottawa Mission provided emergency shelter to an average of 197 men every night and served an average of 1,422 meals every day.  The Ottawa Mission also provides to men and women health services, mental health and addiction treatment programs, hospice care, dental services, housing services, educational support, job training, spiritual care, and clothing to thousands in need in our community. In September 2020, The Ottawa Mission marked the one millionth hour that the shelter has been in existence since its founding in 1906. In 2019, the Mission became a housing-focused shelter reflective of its commitment to a home for everyone as a human right with the launch of a new housing department. 

FOR INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Aileen Leo
Director of Communications
T 613.234.1144 x 305
E-mail: aleo@ottawamission.com

Cooking Up a New Dream: The Ottawa Mission Opens Up “Chef Ric’s”

Ottawa, ON – Today The Ottawa Mission celebrated its grand opening of its new social enterprise “Chef Ric’s” at the former home of Ottawa’s beloved Rideau Bakery. The Mission appreciates the grant of almost $417,200 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation as well as the contributions of so many donors and supporters to realize this project.

This new facility will expand The Mission’s very successful Food Services Training Program (FSTP), which provides graduates the skills and credentials to work in a commercial kitchen, as well as a storefront operation where all members of the community can purchase healthy prepared meal options at very affordable prices. Chef Ric’s will also expand The Mission’s growing catering business, with all proceeds directed back into the FSTP, and be the new home of The Mission’s Mobile Mission Meals food truck program, which has served over 120,000 meals since it began one year ago.

Ottawa Mission CEO Peter Tilley noted the important connection to the Kardish family, the former owners and operators of the Rideau Bakery. “I’m delighted to welcome you here today to our very own “Chef Ric’s”, our new social enterprise at the former home of Ottawa’s beloved Rideau Bakery which provided a feeling of home, warmth and inclusion to people in our community for almost 90 years.”

Chef Ric Allen-Watson, Director of Food Services, noted the impact of the FSTP and how the expansion will help even more people in need. “Our space within our shelter wasn’t big enough to meet the demand and we had to turn applicants away, which we didn’t want to keep doing. Since 2004, this program has graduated 190 people, 90% of whom have gone to jobs in the food service industry. Through this expansion, we expect to graduate about 25 more students per year into new lives, self-sufficiency, and independence.”

Erica La France, a current FSTP student, explained what the program means to her. “I grew up in abuse, but I baked a lot, and that was something I really enjoyed. It was very therapeutic for me. I love the community feel of Chef Ric’s. We’re feeding a community of people that have that same basic need for food as somebody who is able to provide it easily. I have the connection to the community through Chef Ric’s. This program allows me to be independent and in charge of my own life.”

Mayor Jim Watson pointed out the continuing leadership of The Ottawa Mission to help people improve their lives through Chef Ric’s. “This new social enterprise is one more example of the innovative approach of The Ottawa Mission, our community’s oldest and largest homeless shelter, to help people rebuild their lives and attain pride, dignity and independence.”

Mathieu Fleury, Councillor for Rideau-Vanier, noted the impact of Chef Ric’s on his ward. “Your Food Services Training Program helps people to become independent by giving your graduates skills, training and a pathway to a job. And your food truck keeps people fed, including the five stops in this ward, which is very much appreciated. This ward needs this support. Our community has the highest rate of food bank usage in the province, and a much lower median income. Chef Ric’s and The Mission offer people hope and practical support to improve their lives.”

Lucille Collard, MPP for Ottawa-Vanier, noted the public investment in Chef Ric’s. “I’m glad that the province has supported this very worthy project through the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Public investment in social enterprises such as Chef Ric’s are an excellent and cost-effective way to provide as much benefit as possible to people in need.”

Lalit Aggarwal, President of Manor Park Management, explained about why he decided to support Chef Ric’s through charging only $10 per year for the enhanced space. “I learned that The Mission needed new space to expand the Food Services Training Program. People like Erica and so many others want to improve their lot. That’s the hook. This will now be even more important with the lingering effects of COVID-19 in our community. It’s great to see it all come together in the home of the former Rideau Bakery.”

Debbie Baylin, speaking on behalf of the Kardish family, extended their best wishes to The Mission on the opening of Chef Ric’s. “The Rideau Bakery was in operation for almost 90 years under the ownership of three generations of the Kardish family. Four generations of brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, were part of the operation.  Everyone learned how to work hard. We wish great success to “Chef Ric’s” and are confident that your workers share the diligence and work ethic that seemed to pervade the family and staff at the Rideau Bakery.”

Chef Ric concluded with a tribute to the Kardish family. “I’m so happy that our new home is the former Rideau Bakery, and that the Kardish family can be with us today to celebrate. Louis, David, Josh and Debbie: you will always be part of our family here at 384 Rideau Street.”

About The Ottawa Mission

Since 1906, The Ottawa Mission has been serving the homeless, the hungry and the lost by providing food, clothing, shelter and skills. In 2019-2020, The Ottawa Mission provided emergency shelter to an average of 197 men every night and served an average of 1,422 meals every day.  The Ottawa Mission also provides to men and women health services, mental health and addiction treatment programs, hospice care, dental services, housing services, educational support, job training, spiritual care, and clothing to thousands in need in our community. In September 2020, The Ottawa Mission marked the one millionth hour that the shelter has been in existence since its founding in 1906. In 2019, the Mission became a housing-focused shelter reflective of its commitment to a home for everyone as a human right with the launch of a new housing department. Visit ottawamission.com to learn more.

About the Ontario Trillium Foundation

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. Last year, nearly $112M was invested into 1,384 community projects and partnerships to build healthy and vibrant communities and strengthen the impact of Ontario’s non-profit sector. In 2020/21, OTF supported Ontario’s economic recovery by helping non-profit organizations rebuild and recover from the impacts of COVID-19.  Visit otf.ca to learn more.

FOR INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Aileen Leo
Director of Communications
T 613.234.1144 x 305
613-712-3092
E-mail: aleo@ottawamission.com

Vote housing at the polls

In a new Nanos poll, 78% of Canadians said they would be more supportive of a political party that proposed concrete action to end homelessness and build new affordable housing. As we prepare to vote this month, let’s review what the national parties propose around housing and homelessness.

Liberal

The Liberals are promising to build, preserve or repair 1.4 million homes over 4 years. They will push big cities to build middle-class homes, convert empty office space into housing, and introduce tax credits that support multi-generational family living. They will also scale up rent-to-own projects and offer a tax-free First Home Savings Account. In addition to this, they plan to double the First-Time Home Buyers Tax Credit and introduce other measures that could save first-time buyers up to $30,000. Their proposed buyers’ bill of rights would include a ban on “blind bidding,” which can drive up sale prices on homes. They would also crack down on housing speculation and home flipping, and they would temporarily ban new foreign ownership in Canadian housing.

Conservative

The Conservatives pledge to build 1 million homes in the next 3 years. They commit to using 15% of federal-owned buildings for housing, and they would require municipalities receiving federal transit funding to increase density near transit. They will encourage investment in rental homes by allowing owners to defer capital gains tax when selling. They will also ban foreign investors from buying homes in Canada unless they plan to live in them or move to Canada. In addition, the party plans to create 1,000 residential drug treatment beds and build 50 recovery community centres across the country. They will also provide $1 billion over five years for Indigenous mental health and drug treatment programs.

NDP

The NDP will create at least 500,000 units of affordable housing over the next 10 years, with at least half completed in the next 5 years. The party will introduce “fast-start funds” to create more co-op and non-profit social housing, use federal lands and resources for affordable housing, and waive the federal portion of the GST/HST on the construction of affordable rentals. They have also promised to double the Home Buyers Tax Credit and re-introduce 30-year terms to CMHC-insured mortgages for most first-time buyers. They will also create resources to facilitate co-housing, such as model co-ownership agreements. Finally, they will place a 20% foreign buyer’s tax on the sale of homes to people who are neither Canadian citizens nor permanent residents.

Green

The Green Party wants to declare a national housing affordability and homelessness emergency. From there, they would adopt a national moratorium on evictions and create a residential arrears assistance program to protect people from becoming homeless. They would make new investments in cooperative housing, and they would retain the current tax on foreign homeowners while adding a tax on corporate owners of unoccupied residences. They also plan to enhance the Canada Housing Benefit and to redefine “affordable housing” using a formula that better reflects today’s reality.

The Nanos poll referenced above reveals that a shocking 4.9 million Canadians are worried about making next month’s rent or mortgage payment. With so much at stake, we encourage you to look into each party’s housing and homelessness policies as you prepare to cast your vote.

Sharing the faces and stories of people experiencing homelessness through photography

There’s a story written on all of our faces.

A story of who we are. Of where we’ve been.

Through her photography, Leah Denbok seeks to capture the stories of people experiencing homelessness and offer viewers a glimpse of their struggles.

In 2015, when she was only 15 years old, she created Humanizing The Homeless, a series of portraits of people experiencing homelessness primarily from Toronto. The striking images are accompanied by stories about their lives, their passions, and their struggles.

Leah was drawn to photography from a young age. After coming upon the work of British photographer Lee Jeffries and his striking portraits of people experiencing homelessness, her father Tim suggested she look for opportunities to create her own.

Leah said that growing up in a small-town in southern Ontario insulated her from the scale of homelessness in large urban centres like Toronto

“Going into it, I was somewhat naive about their lives and had many of the negative stereotypes that people often assume,” she said. “But as you soon discover, people experiencing homelessness can be some of the kindest, most humble people you’ll ever meet.”

But her belief in the project also comes from a personal place: her mother, Sara, was once homeless.

As a child, Sara was found in the streets of Calcutta, India in the early 1970s, and was brought by a police officer to Mother Teresa’s orphanage. From there, she was adopted by a Canadian couple near Collingwood.

“I realize that if not for people having empathy for people experiencing homelessness, I wouldn’t be alive,” she said.

Humanizing the people she photographs and encouraging empathy lay at the heart of the project.

After capturing hundreds of images and stories in cities in Canada and internationally, Leah said what inspires her to keep the project going is knowing that the work is helping change perspectives.

“I think if anyone actually took the time to listen to what people have had to go through and experience just to survive, they’d be shocked,” she said.

“I receive from people who’ve seen the photos saying they’re not just going to walk by anymore, and that they’ll stop just pretending that they aren’t there.”

After several years, Leah collected her works into three volumes of photography books, with all proceeds going to support local emergency shelters. The fourth book in the series will be released later this fall.

To learn more about Leah and her project, visit https://www.humanizingthehomeless.org/