Author Archives: The Ottawa Mission

“A Godsend”: A New Home and a New Life for Dean

Dean, a quiet and respectful man of 61 years, is originally from Brockville. He worked hard to maintain his sobriety for several years, but the burden of grief from losing five people who were very close to him in a very short time, including his mother and his brother, drove him to return to using alcohol to cope with his pain.

In late 2019, after he decided to give up drinking, he discovered a lack of services in Brockville, and made the decision to travel to Ottawa to seek help here. The first night he arrived, he had to sleep on a mat on our chapel floor given the chronic overcapacity of our shelter from 2018 to 2020 due to the lack of affordable housing in Ottawa. Dean spent four months in an emergency shelter dorm room with seven other clients. He admits that living in close quarters with this many people in one place could be challenging. “I would sometimes think about leaving, but not until after lunch,” he notes with a smile, a testimony to how good Chef Ric’s meals are at The Mission.

Dean was admitted to an Addiction and Trauma Services (ATS) residential treatment bed within the Hope and Stabilization programs, where he stayed for almost 6 months. His praises the approach to addiction within the ATS suite of programs as “really good, and making all the difference”. Broader supports offered to Dean during his stay with us included helping him replace essential identification documents such as his birth certificate and health card that had been lost, helping him with his income taxes as well as access to public supports such as employment insurance and his Canada Pension Plan when he retires. The Mission also helped Dean secure a new apartment close to our shelter, which is great news.

“The people here have been just outstanding,” Dean says of the support that has been provided to him to help him stabilize and renew his life. Dean also felt safe at The Mission as the Covid19 pandemic unfolded in Ottawa. “I felt as safe here as I would in a hospital,” he says. “The precautions they take are really good.” Dean also appreciates the efforts of Mission staff to find innovative ways to deliver essential programs to continue to support clients such as virtual SMART Recovery meetings for ATS clients, the resumption of Chaplaincy services, and other supports.

“This place has been a Godsend,” Dean notes with gratitude. “I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be sober — I couldn’t do it on my own.”

Your gift has given Dean a new home and new life. Thank you so much for your generous support.

A beautiful smile makes it all worthwhile: Why Linda volunteers

Linda is a kind and thoughtful person who has been volunteering in The Ottawa Mission’s kitchen for the past 16 months. In this role, she’s completed a variety of tasks, including buttering bread and cutting buns, making sandwiches, serving coffee in the morning to clients, wrapping cutlery for individual servings (a continuing Covid19 precaution), and serving beverages and desserts to clients at lunchtime. Linda volunteers once a week.

As a retired occupational therapist and a people person, a main draw of volunteering in The Mission’s kitchen is the opportunity to interact with people such as other kitchen volunteers and Mission staff. “The Mission staff and volunteers are very friendly. I look forward to coming here for my shift,” Linda notes.

Most rewarding of all for Linda is her interaction with the clients she serves. “Clients have gratitude and are very thankful for the help they receive. It seems counterintuitive since clients are homeless, but I’ve seen so many beautiful smiles on the faces of clients since I’ve started here.”

Linda has also noticed the disproportionate burden of homelessness that people from racialized backgrounds bear as she serves clients. “They are overrepresented and disadvantaged,” she notes.

In the spring of 2020, The Mission’s Board of Directors developed and confirmed a statement on anti-Black racism. This statement notes that “Jesus made it clear that one of the reasons he was sent by God was to ‘set the oppressed free’ (Luke 4:18). In our commitment to transition those we serve to wholeness, here at the Ottawa Mission we are privileged to come alongside a wide diversity of people including an increasing number of Black individuals who benefit from our services.” The Mission was one of the first agencies in Ottawa to issue such a statement. It builds on our commitment to unconditional acceptance and respect for all clients we serve regardless of background, which is reflective in many of our programs, for example, our country food feast and specialized counselling for Indigenous clients.

Your generosity ensures many smiles on the faces of our clients as well as a sense of dignity and belonging to all who turn to us for help. Through your donations and your volunteer engagement with clients, you provide warmth and inclusion. Thank you so much for your kindness and caring.

Joint Statement by Ottawa Emergency Shelters on Covid19 Outbreak

Due to the recent increase of COVID-19 cases in Ottawa, Shepherds of Good Hope, The Salvation Army Ottawa Booth Centre, Cornerstone Housing for Women and The Ottawa Mission, in coordination with Ottawa Public Health (OPH) and Ottawa Inner City Health (OICH), proactively initiated sector-wide testing earlier this month. As a result of this testing, multiple positive cases have been identified at these locations.

All shelter residents who tested positive have been moved to isolation centres, and any staff who test positive are isolating at home. Further testing is ongoing at all emergency shelters and will continue in the days ahead. In each instance of a positive test, contact tracing is done with the guidance and lead of OPH and OICH.
We are actively working with OPH, OICH and other community partners, including the City of Ottawa, to ensure that consistent and enhanced measures are in place to respond to this evolving situation.

In order to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, our emergency shelters are not currently taking new admissions. We are working closely with the City of Ottawa to identify appropriate shelter accommodations for any additional individuals seeking assistance.

Our organizations are so thankful for the support we have received from our community throughout this pandemic. We recognize that this has been especially hard on people experiencing homelessness or those precariously housed. The wellbeing of our clients, volunteers and employees remains our top priority.

The staff and volunteers at each of our organizations have been working tirelessly since March 2020, in challenging circumstances, to support some of the most vulnerable members of our community.

Further questions regarding these outbreaks should be directed to Ottawa Public Health.

Paying it forward: How Gary Zed is helping those in need at The Ottawa Mission by supporting local businesses

When it comes to helping the most vulnerable members of our community and inspiring others to do likewise, Ottawa philanthropist Gary Zed is a natural leader. Wanting not only to help those citizens most in need, but also support local businesses hit hard by the pandemic, Gary has launched a major fundraising campaign to help social service agencies, including The Ottawa Mission, to provide for the needs of those who are homeless, hungry and lost. Gary has donated $100,000 of his own funds to purchase the services of local businesses impacted by the pandemic and is calling on others in the community in a position to do the same.

Zed’s generosity will provide desperately needed supports for our shelter guests and vulnerable community members in December and January, including:

  • A “Summer Festivus” BBQ on December 22. A special celebratory meal for our shelter guests and community members who access our community meal program, The Mission will grill mouth-watering fare from long-time Ottawa Mission food partner Capital Meats, and offerings from another long-time partner Orleans Fresh Fruit will also be on hand. The Grilling Gourmet Celebrity Chef Steph Legari will make a guest appearance and flip a few sausage on the grills provided by our good friend at Capital City BBQ, Chuck Shabsove.
  • Donations of winter boots. Many of those who come to The Ottawa Mission arrive here without proper clothing or footwear to protect them against the elements. In our bitterly cold winters, to be without protection from the elements is to be at risk for frostbite or worse. This year, providing winter footwear will be challenging because we’ve had to restrict accepting clothing donations because of the pandemic, so it’s wonderful that Gary’s donation will provide boots from local suppliers.
  • A gift of coffee cards to our shelter guests on Christmas day from our friends at Morning Owl Coffee on Laurier avenue. What a great way to start this very special day: a gift of a warm and comforting beverage.
  • One week of warm and delicious meals from our dear friend Chef Joe Thottungal from Coconut Lagoon and Thali restaurants within our new food truck. This project was launched less than four months ago: since that time, it has grown from five locations to now 13 locations across the city serving more than 2,000 meals a week to people who cannot make it to our community meal program at our shelter and would otherwise go hungry. As Brett, a food truck client noted, as a result of this program “I go two, three days without eating, sometimes four … I don’t have to go hungry today”. Joe’s contribution to helping our clients supported by Gary’s donation is particularly poignant given that the Coconut Lagoon was ravaged by fire this spring.

We could not be more grateful. Thank you so much Gary and family for supporting our clients and the wider community.

Helping Those in Need Made Worse by the Pandemic: The Ottawa Mission Serves an Astounding 5,762 Christmas Meals

Ottawa, ON – During this Christmas season, The Ottawa Mission served an astounding 5,762 meals to people across the city of Ottawa, the highest total of special holiday meals ever in the shelter’s history. Normally The Mission serves 2,000 – 2,500 Christmas meals each year. This year, the current pandemic has made hunger in Ottawa much worse, and in response, The Mission served a full Christmas meal with all the fixings to:

  • our shelter guests;
  • clients in our take-out community meal program (along with two other meals);
  • food truck clients from December 14 – 18;
  • clients within the Routhier Covid19 self-isolation centre and the Dempsey overflow homeless shelter;
  • residents within Ottawa Community Housing; and
  • other community organizations throughout the city.

“Our kitchen volunteers and staff worked very hard to ensure that everyone had a delicious and healthy Christmas dinner.” says Chef Ric Allen-Watson, Director of Food Services at The Mission.

Also on the menu were: savory stuffing (70 pans); mashed potato (750lbs); glazed carrots (600lbs); vegetarian quiche (150 portions); fresh baked rolls (3,000–4,000 dozen); giblet gravy (65 gallons); vegetarian quiches (400); and bottled water and juice (1,500-2000 units; beverages were not served at the food truck).

“I’ve been at The Ottawa Mission for 19 years, and I’ve never seen hunger this bad in our community. I want to thank the people of Ottawa for their incredible generosity by donating so many turkeys, produce and other food items to ensure that we could help meet this need by providing a full Christmas dinner to so many people,” Allen-Watson added. In addition to warm and nutritious food, the Christmas dinner provides a sense of shared community to those who may otherwise not only go hungry, but also find themselves alone.

“The pandemic has made a significant change in the daily operations of The Ottawa Mission, including the shelter’s meal program to minimize the risk of Covid19 while delivering desperately needed food,” noted Ottawa Mission CEO Peter Tilley.

“Poverty, homelessness and food insecurity are serious public health issues and have been made worse by this pandemic. We at The Ottawa Mission are doing our part to address food insecurity and keep people healthy through our meal program,” Tilley concluded.

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.


Aileen Leo
Director of Communications
T 613.234.1144 x 305
C 613.712.3092


Caivan contributes $150,000 for The Ottawa Mission through the “Building Tomorrow Together” initiative

Ottawa, ON – As a unique and challenging year for our community draws to a close, Ottawa’s Caivan Communities has some good news: through the Building Tomorrow Together initiative it has made a donation of $150,000 in support of The Ottawa Mission.

“2020 has been one of the most difficult years for our shelter since we were founded in 1906,” stated Ottawa Mission CEO Peter Tilley. “The impact of the pandemic has meant an increased risk of hunger and homelessness for so many in our community, which means that our services are needed now more than ever. Caivan’s commitment to supporting our work to help the most vulnerable in our community could not be more timely.”

Jonathan Wiseman [Senior Vice President, Homebuilding], noted Caivan’s longstanding commitment to the work of The Ottawa Mission. “We’ve supported The Mission for the past several years and keep coming back to lend a hand because we’re amazed by their work. In addition to a warm meal and a safe place to sleep, The Mission offers so many programs to help the city’s most vulnerable people transform their lives. We’re honoured to be part of this effort.”

The Building Tomorrow Together initiative was launched in the summer of 2020. For each home sold by Caivan, the company agreed to make a donation to The Ottawa Mission. The$150,000 donation will not only support the increased needs that the shelter is facing for immediate support to combat hunger and homelessness, but also longer-term efforts to further expand services to help people improve their lives.

“The Building Tomorrow Together initiative has provided the Caivan team such a meaningful way to work with the Mission in energizing Ottawa’s future and we look forward to supporting their efforts in the year to come. Mr. Wiseman added.

“Christmas has come early this year to The Ottawa Mission with Caivan’s incredibly generous and much appreciated support,” Mr. Tilley concluded.

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.

To learn more about Caivan Communities please Click Here


Aileen Leo
Director of Communications
T 613.234.1144 x 305
C 613.712.3092

Dr. Tom and his team extend “the hands of kindness.”

A confident smile can light up any encounter, especially when we meet people for the first time, but poor dental health can inhibit one’s self confidence, impair proper digestion, and even lead to complications such as heart disease and diabetes. Sadly, people who are homeless or living in poverty simply do not have access to regular dental check-ups. And so, when The Ottawa Mission opened what is now known as the DYMON Health Clinic back in 2007, it was fortunate to count Dr. Tom Harle among its dedicated team.

Dr. Harle (“call me Dr. Tom”) is a faith-inspired individual and dentist who believes in providing a helping hand whenever the opportunity presents itself, although his humility and good nature makes him uncomfortable being portrayed as an angel. Dr. Tom founded The Mission’s free dental clinic after years of volunteering abroad with Health Teams International (Canada) in such places as Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. “I was telling one my patients about our work and he said, ‘You know Tom, we have a lot of people in need here in Ottawa’ and I thought, yikes, that’s very convincing. If I can travel half way around the world to provide volunteer dental services, surely I can do that for the disadvantaged right here at home.”

Dr. Tom approached The DYMON Clinic’s founder Diane Morrison with an idea. “Tom,” Diane said, “how did you know we had just decided to open up a primary health clinic, and we’d set aside a room for a dental office?” A guiding angel, perhaps? He assembled a team to offer emergency, preventative, and restorative dental care. “As a prosthodontist in the city, I have a built-in network of referrals, and I could tap into that to encourage volunteers,” Dr. Tom says. “We started with 9, and it has grown ever since.” Dr. Tom now leads a team of over 100 volunteer dentists, denturists and hygienists, who treated 471 patients over the past year.

“I once asked a patient about why she came to us. ‘The hands of kindness’ was how she referred to the clinic,” Dr. Tom fondly recalls.

Please consider extending your kindness to help The Mission’s dental clinic. Your generosity can help bring healthy smiles to its patients.

I met an angel at IKEA

Recently, I met an angel named Tom, at IKEA of all places. I had purchased a box spring and was getting ready to place it in my car, when Tom stepped up and asked me if I needed help. I accepted, but unfortunately the box spring didn’t fit into my car. Tom graciously offered to place it in his car and deliver it to my home. I told him where I lived, which is quite far from IKEA, near the airport. He had some errands to complete at IKEA, but said he would then drop the box spring off at my house afterwards.

It’s not every day we accept such an offer from a stranger, so Tom considerately asked me if I trusted him, which I did, immediately. Every cell in Tom’s body radiated honesty and kindness. He returned from the store a few minutes later to tell me that now his stuff wouldn’t fit in his vehicle, so he’d have to deliver my box spring first and return to the store. I didn’t want to take advantage of his kindness so I offered to pay him for his troubles. Tom kindly refused, but suggested I donate to The Ottawa Mission instead. Once home, he insisted on bringing the box spring right up to the door.

I googled Tom’s name and found out that he is indeed a real angel. He founded The Mission’s Dental Clinic! For many reasons, people end up living on the street with no money. No one is immune to this turn of events in life. Because of generous, unselfish people like Dr. Harle, homeless people can have free dental care, which they wouldn’t be able to afford in the first place. Cavities can be quite painful and if left untreated, can add other health issues on top of already existing ones.

I absolutely did donate to The Mission because of Dr. Harle’s generosity and kindness, but also to give to the forgotten ones. God places Angels on our path all the time. Sometimes we see them, sometimes not. I certainly met a true angel yesterday.

Thank you again Tom, for your help.

Manon Pilote

Be an angel and consider donating to The Ottawa Mission this Christmas. Your generosity supports free dental care and will put a smile on the faces of so many in need

Mission meals so ‘mmm’ delicious

Chip wagons have long been a tradition of urban culture in Ottawa. There’s a new, one-of-its-kind food truck on the streets of the capital these days, and it specializes in serving tasty, warm meals in neighbourhoods around town. The program has been dubbed Mobile Mission Meals (as in ‘mmm’ for delicious), and its impact is seen on the faces of the individuals who line up every weekday. The MMM food truck is the result of a partnership with five emergency food providers, and generous sponsors like Urbandale Corporation, Capital Meat, and Orleans Fresh Fruit. Pelican Seafood Market and Grill kindly donated its food truck to The Mission.

There are all kinds of reasons why people need food banks. Swings in the economy, low income, (both made worse by COVID 19) and a lack of affordable housing are just some of the factors that put stress on a weekly food budget. While The Mission continues to offer thousands of meals weekly to those who drop by in person, the MMM food truck program recognizes that a trip to Sandy Hill may be difficult for those with mobility issues or who may be short of funds for bus fare. Bringing nutritious, hot meals to communities where they are needed the most is a dignified response to these challenges.

Filipe Isla Wong is a graduate of the Food Services Training Program (FSTP). He’s recently moved from The Mission’s kitchen to become driver of the food truck. “I do a tour of the city each week,” Filipe says. With the assistance of an FSTP student, ingredients for 400 meals are prepared every morning in the kitchen, then loaded on to the truck to be cooked up and served. “We travel to 10 different locations throughout the city” Filipe thoughtfully reports. “People are so happy to see us wherever we go!”

Your gift of support provides the gift of warm meals to your neighbours experiencing food insecurity in Ottawa.

Thank you for your kindness during this Christmas season.

Trust is the number one goal

Peter Naylor is a direct engagement shelter-based case manager with the Housing Department of The Mission. ‘Direct’ means that Peter is a member of the team that is “engagement-focused with the gentlemen who come to the door looking for a helping hand.” Peter supports the guests who have been in the shelter for six months or more, beginning with what he calls “a process of gentle engagement to determine what can be done to help them move forward.”

The average stay in the shelter is roughly 14 days. However, 180 days in the shelter combined with high needs means it is time to meet with Peter to determine a course of action. 90% of his caseload arrive with some sort of mental health challenge. Addiction and mental health-focused issues, or, in many cases, a combination of interconnected issues, must be addressed before moving on to housing and financial support.

Trust is Peter’s number one goal, because trust is essential to formulating a collaborative plan of recovery and stability. “Nothing is forced,” he says, “and the guest must be genuinely on-board every step of the way.” There is no moving forward until there is readiness, and that can take a tremendous amount of time, but it is the only path to success.

Peter is pleased to report that one guest, a gentleman entering his retirement years, has recently moved into an apartment of his own. “This fellow had maybe 10 years of homelessness behind him. He was addicted to alcohol, but that has been greatly controlled, which is amazing, and he feels a lot better for it,” Peter says. “He is finally able to leave the streets behind and retire in dignity.”

There is a severe depression and anxiety component to this gentleman’s story, so moving into a new home, especially during COVID, only amplifies his stress, but Peter is confident that with ongoing support, he will achieve stability. The gentleman has been connected to a worker at The Canadian Mental Health A ssociation, staff at Ottawa City Housing, and, of course, Peter continues to be a positive presence in his life.

Your generous donation supports so many people on the path to a new home. Peter reports that you can see the hope in their eyes when they open that door for the first time. Thank you for your kindness.