Author Archives: The Ottawa Mission

Without A Will…

There are many reasons why we put off making a will. The process can be daunting. There is uncertainty about where to begin. Some think their estate is too small to bother. However, if we really understood the consequences of not having a will, especially for those we care about, we would be taking action—immediately.

Here are just some of the reasons why having a will is so important:

  • When you don’t have a will, the chances of having to apply to court for probate are much higher. When you have a will, combined with some good estate planning, you can often avoid this costly and time consuming process.
  • Without a will, the laws of the province in which you reside will determine how your assets are distributed on your passing. Your preferences may not be followed and could result in real hardship for your loved ones.
  • If you are parents of minor children, you lose your only opportunity to name a legal guardian of your choice—someone who could best meet the emotional and material needs of your children.
  • Finally, if minors are beneficiaries, they will inherit from your estate at the age of 18 with no strings attached. Some can handle such responsibility at this young age, while others cannot.

Having an up-to-date will is important. Think about the legacy that you would like to leave, and then seek professional advice and counsel. You—and your heirs— will be glad you did.

Without a Will is based on an article written by Peter Lillico, an estate planning lawyer with the Peterborough, Ontario firm of Lillico Bazuk Galloway Halka.

Lucian and Rita Blair: Seeing The Need

Lucian and Rita Blair have donated to The Ottawa Mission Foundation for 18 years — even though they both wish The Mission wasn’t needed. Unfortunately, it is.

It was Lucian’s work in local television that first brought The Mission and its work to his attention. He had no idea the difficulties the homeless faced, or their special needs, until he produced a news program on homelessness. Rita’s work as a social worker at the Ottawa Civic Hospital brought The Mission’s work to light as well. They discovered the impressive, comprehensive strategies it uses with the homeless and, as Lucian shares, “We were happy to offer our financial support.” They do so in memory of their son Paul, who died in 2011.

The Blairs were born in northeastern Italy in an area that is now part of Slovenia. Their parents met in an internment camp, decided that their future lay in Canada, and immigrated in 1951. Rita’s family moved to Montreal, while Lucian’s family relocated to Toronto. Lucian and Rita connected again during Expo 67, began a friendship, and have now been married for close to 50 years.

The couple is clearly aware of what a good life they have in comparison to others. As Lucian shares, “Our gifts support The Mission’s meal and rehabilitation programs and that pleases us.”

They became monthly donors and more recently each has chosen to remember The Mission with another kind of gift — a legacy in their will. It was something they just knew they wanted to do. “We have no grandchildren”, says Rita, “and we have absolute confidence The Mission will use our gifts creatively and well.” Their future gifts are a percentage of their estates and have been left undesignated to be used where the need is greatest at the time.

Today, the Blairs are happily retired. Lucian spends time with his piano, making playlists for his friends, reading, and home maintenance. Rita is an avid bird watcher and enjoys gardening. They keep abreast of The Mission’s activities and are happy to encourage their neighbours and friends to support the Mission as well. The Mission could not be more grateful for all their years of thoughtful help.

When asked what he would say to someone who is considering leaving a legacy gift to The Mission, Lucian is clear. “Just do it! The Mission does wonderful work that meets urgent needs. It is an organization most worthy of our help.”

You too can support The Mission with a gift of any amount in your estate plans. Staff would be pleased to assist you in any way they can. And if you have already remembered The Mission with a legacy, would you let us know? We would like to thank you personally and ensure we use your future gift exactly as you wish.

On behalf of those we serve thank you, Lucian and Rita, for your generous support of The Mission in so many ways for so many years.

Working with our partners to meet the need for healthy food and a brighter future

As the pandemic has impacted our community, The Ottawa Mission has partnered with community food cupboards across our city to meet the need for healthy food in response to worsening food insecurity. Our food truck project was launched at the beginning of September 2020 and the need for its services has grown since that time. We started the program to bring meals to people where they live to serve even more people in need.
The program began with five stops delivering about 100 meals at each stop. The food truck now has 18 locations rotating throughout Ottawa each week and delivers over 2,800 meals per week.

Last year, The Ottawa Mission served over 1,400 meals every day and a total of over 520,000 meals. The addition of the food truck has pushed this daily average number of meals served to more than 2,000, and will push our yearly total meal count to well over 600,000.

We’re incredibly grateful to our partners, donors and sponsors for their generous support. We couldn’t do this without your help.

Our supporters have also been instrumental in expanding our very successful Food Services Training Program. Since 2004, the FSTP has trained 179 students to work in this industry and has a success rate of 90% in terms of students securing positions.

The program has expanded to include more training opportunities such as catering and job placements. Over time, the FSTP has outgrown kitchen and our ability to keep up with the number of people that want to take part in the program. As a result, we’ve had to turn potential trainees away because we don’t have the resources or space to train them.

To address these issues and help even more people in need, we’re moving forward to increase the annual number of students trained at our new non-profit, offsite FSTP education centre located within the former Rideau Bakery site. We’ll increase the number of sessions per year from two to three to train more students per year. We will also add a store-front operation to serve healthy, nutritious meals at an affordable price for people that normally couldn’t afford it.

We’re profoundly grateful to have the generous support of many existing and new partners to realize this exciting new initiative, including the Aggarwal family, current owners of the former Rideau Bakery site, who have donated it for our use for seven years.

The Rideau Bakery provided delicious food and a sense of community and family to the people of Ottawa for almost 90 years before closing its doors in 2019. We’re very proud to be able to continue this tradition while helping those in need to rebuild their lives.

A huge thank you to our supporters for your incredible generosity in providing both healthy food and brighter future for those we serve.

Cooking Up a New Future for Amir

Amir is a bright, enthusiastic 17-year old who graduated from The Mission’s Food Services Training program (FSTP) on November 12. He holds the record as the youngest student ever in the program.

Amir came to Canada from Iran three years ago with his parents and sister. He’s a student at Glebe Collegiate where he is completing his high school education. ESL classes are helping him get good grades and he is looking forward to graduation.

You can hear the excitement in Amir’s voice when he talks about what the FSTP means to him. “It is for me a great pleasure to work with the great Chef Ric,” Amir says with a smile. He’s a hard worker. Amir completed his high school requirements over the summer, and enrolled in a high school placement program as an FSTP student, which prepared him for work in a commercial kitchen. Since 2004, the FSTP, the program has maintained a 90% success rate for students finding jobs in the industry, even during the pandemic.

“When I came here, it was in COVID and I couldn’t meet with my friends,” Amir says, “but when I came I met so many amazing people. And I’ve learned a lot of skills.”

Amir secured a part-time position at Skuish Cookies, which makes delicious treats. Covid19 resulted in him being laid off, however, when that is no longer a factor, he will happily go back.
Amir is very grateful for all the support he is receiving. “I’m not only working to learn, but I love to help people who come to The Mission for help.”

Thanks to you, Amir has cooked up a new future with newfound confidence.

A Place to Call Home at Last for Raymond

Raymond was a gentle and friendly 63-year-old man from a small farming community in Manitoba where he lived until he was almost 30. “We took care of the land, the garden and the chickens,” he remembered fondly.

When he was seven, his mother moved in with his new stepfather, a decision he called a “mistake”. His stepfather had a problem with alcohol, and his mother, who didn’t drink, began to drink too. Alcohol fueled fighting between the two of them, and also the beatings from his stepfather. “The days weren’t all bad,” he said ruefully. Raymond also incurred polio as a child, but fortunately recovered.

From a Cree background, Raymond’s mother ensured that he didn’t go to residential school but instead a regular day school. But that still didn’t protect Raymond against discrimination and abuse because of who he was.

After he left the farm, Raymond had a succession of jobs, including on a beef farm in Dauphin, sanding fiberglass rooves for buses in Winnipeg, and other jobs across the country. “I hitchhiked back in the days when it was safe to do,” he recalled with a smile.

Sadly, as he moved across Canada in search of new jobs, new homes and a new life, his own problem with alcohol ebbed and flowed. This affected not only his ability to keep a job, but also his relationships with his five sons, who live in different parts of Canada. “I don’t have a connection with them except my youngest,” he noted quietly with downcast eyes.

As Raymond grew older he developed heart problems as well as anxiety and panic attacks. After he came to Ottawa, he moved into the Oakes, a supportive treatment facility run by the Shepherds of Good Hope which has both a Managed Alcohol Program and an aging-at-home program. As his health declined further, he became unable to look after himself and moved into our Hospice, the oldest and largest within a homeless shelter in North America, in August 2020.

Hardship and tragedy continued to follow Raymond more recently: both his sisters passed away and his granddaughter perished in a fire. He found solace in his continued contact with his youngest son as well as his brother, who lives in Edmonton.

Raymond also found comfort and caring in the relationships he developed with Hospice staff. “It’s so quiet and peaceful here. There’s no pressure.” He has his own room and is provided 24-hour support. “The staff here are so accepting, likeable and helpful. Kevin helps me with my shower, and Pat runs errands for me to the corner store. I really appreciate it.”

Sadly, Raymond passed away on December 30. Through your kindness and caring, you gave Raymond the home he needed and deserved. Thank you so much for your support and compassion.

“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