April 25, 2014

Finding a Stepping Stone to Education and Community

 The Ottawa Mission’s Stepping Stones Learning Centre is a small room on the top floor of our Client Services centre located next to the main shelter.  It’s not a formal ‘classroom’ but rather a place where men and women can find support for a number of different educational hurdles – whether it’s completing online courses towards a high school diploma, studying for the GED test,  or getting help with basic literacy.

But education is much more than a textbook, and Stepping Stones is also a place where people can connect with our community. This past week, there were a couple of wonderful opportunities for students currently using the services of our learning centre.

On Tuesday, The Mission’s Education Co-ordinator, Kathy Cillis, organized a field trip to the Museum of Science & Technology. During the visit, the group was allowed to visit the warehouses behind the museum and learn about how items are preserved and archived.

Later in the week, Stepping Stones held a mixed media art class that was open to anyone taking part in programs at The Mission. It brought together people in addiction treatment, people working on education goals, and even someone currently staying in our Hospice. Two retired teachers volunteered their time to help everyone create a personal piece of art related to what the Ottawa Mission means to them.

Activities such as these can help people in shelters, or people ‘at-risk’ of homelessness, form new interests and new friendships, and gain much needed self-confidence.   They also give people a sense of being part of the community.   For all of these reasons, they make a big difference in the lives of those who often have very little to look forward to.

Yet another example of why we say that The Ottawa Mission is “much more than a shelter”.