The Christmas season always comes alive very early at The Ottawa Mission. For the past few weeks, I’ve been seeing all types of people coming in with donations of money, clothing, and food to help those staying at the shelter. It never ceases to amaze me when I see the outpouring of generosity from this community. And the help doesn’t go unnoticed by the men staying here either – some of them are facing a Christmas in a shelter for the first time.
A gentleman named Antonio has been here at the Mission for the past 8 months getting help with his addiction to drugs and alcohol. Antonio spent many years as a fire-fighter and was telling me this week, he never thought he’d spend a Christmas at a homeless shelter. He’s doing well in his recovery and expects to move out of The Mission in January – but he’s still too fragile to spend much time with family and friends over the holidays. In fact, Antonio says he’s actually looking forward to spending Christmas at The Ottawa Mission because he knows he’ll be safe and surrounded by staff and other men in the same treatment program who care about his recovery.
People sometimes ask me if The Mission is a depressing place to be over the holidays. I tell them it’s bitter-sweet It’s true many are struggling with issues like job loss, addiction, and mental illness, but our volunteers, staff and all of you bringing in donations, are showing them that someone cares – and that’s a good feeling.