For over one year, we’ve been encouraged to stay at home to stop COVID-19. Of course, this can’t happen if you don’t have a home.
As the pandemic wears on, we find hope from the rollout of vaccines. In fact, some vaccines are being administered right here at our shelter. But we also remain vigilant regarding the risk of infection while delivering essential services, which are needed now more than ever before.
Ottawa was already in a state of homelessness emergency when the pandemic began. Given COVID-19’s overwhelming impact on our mental health, addictions, finances, employment, and housing and food insecurity, we anticipate our shelter will continue to be the first place of refuge for increasing numbers of vulnerable people for years after COVID-19 has passed.
While warming weather is welcome, the continuing need is overwhelming and growing.
For example, last summer we launched our Food Truck Program to feed those who couldn’t travel to our shelter due to disability, lack of money for transportation, or other reasons. As a result, our average daily meal count has exploded from 1,422 before the pandemic to more than 2,500 — an astounding 80% increase.
As more people are forced to make impossible choices, such as buying food or paying their rent, we ask ourselves what does home mean in such uncertain times? And with more people sleeping outside in soaring temperatures, unable to access shade or water, we ask ourselves how can we provide the safety, warmth and belonging that normally comes with a home?
In this newsletter, you’ll find a heartening story about the meaning of home from Shaun, a former shelter guest who now has his own home in one of our mixed-market apartment buildings featuring supportive housing options. For Shaun, the comfort that comes from being home is something he needs and deserves.
As the CEO of The Ottawa Mission, I can assure you that your support is fundamental to our ability to ensure that our current and former clients have a place to call home.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
CEO, The Ottawa Mission