Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Giving Thanks For A New Country

Deng first came to Canada as a political refugee from Sudan in 2000, landing in Vancouver and making his way to Brooks, Alberta where he worked in a meat packing plant. His experience as a civil society leader inspired him to join the fight for better working conditions and wages at the plant. The story was featured on the CBC news. Deng’s activism, however, made for an uncomfortable relationship with his employer, so he pursued a new path, training in Calgary to become a personal support worker.

Deng found a job at the Queensway Carleton Hospital, but eventually returned home, motivated by patriotism, to support a new peace agreement. “I was elected Chair of Civil Society in the new South Sudan, a non-governmental organization,” Deng says, “and I still hold that position.” South Sudan is the world’s newest country, founded in 2011 following decades of colonial rule and Africa’s longest civil war.

Deng returned to Canada in 2017 with the help of the U.N. and Canadian Embassy staff, as political tensions required that he flee once again. “I was calling for support for the grass roots, but I was banned by the government and many things happened I cannot talk about,” he says, “but I am working from here for change.” Deng lived at The Mission for several months, where, “the first people to become my friends at the shelter and love me were Indigenous people,” he recalls proudly. He eventually met Larry at St. Joseph’s Supper Table in Sandy Hill where the retired teacher, and member of the parish, volunteers serving meals. The two men became friends and Larry welcomed Deng into his home, where he still resides.

Seeking to upgrade his education, Deng approached The Mission’s Stepping Stones Learning Centre (SSLC). Kathy Cillis is the SSLC’s certified teacher. “Sometimes students need to step away from education for some reason, but the door is always open,” Kathy says. “It’s a small classroom with a big heart, and a big impact.” The symbol of the stone truly resonated with Deng. “I wanted to improve my English, so I met teacher Kathy at Stepping Stones,” Deng shares. “When I was detained back home, I had a dream God told me I would be free when I receive a stone, and when I saw the painting of the stone [on the SSLC wall], I knew I belonged there.”

Deng is a dedicated student at St. Patrick’s Adult School, where he is working hard to improve his language and computer skills. His weekly ESL class with Kathy at Stepping Stones supplements those studies. Deng enjoys stories about inspirational figures like Louis Riel, Rosa Parks, and Nelson Mandela. Kathy recommends two articles a week from the ESL Library website and meets with Deng every Wednesday, these days by phone, to review homework and converse about the reading assignments. Housemate Larry serves as resident tutor and reports real progress in overall literacy.

It takes a community to successfully welcome refugees into Canadian society. Stepping Stones is an integral part of that process for many refugees seeking a new life in Canada. “I want to thank God, the indigenous people, churches, and The Mission for welcoming me on Canadian soil,” Deng says. “I’m proud to be Canadian, and with your help, I work to bring what I am learning about democracy and civil society here in Canada to my people in South Sudan.”

Your generous donation helps individuals like Deng overcome the anxiety of forced displacement and find hope in a new country. You are a part of his extraordinary story.

Building Homes For Everyone Since 1958

Urbandale is a long-time fixture on the Ottawa map. The company began as a modest venture in 1958 when Herbert Nadolny and Lyon Sachs, two lifelong friends, bought Urbandale Realty Corporation. They expanded in the 1960s, building condominiums and rental communities around town, including a dozen affordable low-rise family communities and high-rise seniors’ residences for Ontario Housing Corporation (OHC).

The coming decades were very busy for Urbandale. Residential projects and land acquisitions continued as the company expanded into neighbourhood shopping plazas that continue to be active in Urbandale-developed communities. Urbandale’s success as a positive presence in Ottawa has, to this day, been guided by the principles of integrity, fairness and forward thinking.

Urbandale’s generous relationship with The Ottawa Mission began in 2000, but they truly became a partner in 2018 with their generous donation of $50,000 given in celebration of their 60th anniversary. The Mission was one of several charities in Ottawa that shared a gift that totaled $600,000, which we collectively celebrated at a recognition event in our dining room in June, 2019. Since then, Urbandale Corporation has continued their generous partnership with The Mission as sponsors of our two signature events: The Blue Door Gala, and as Lead Partner for The Coldest Night of the Year.

“Urbandale Corporation has a long history of philanthropy in Ottawa, stretching over 60 years,” says Lyon Sachs. “We have always focused on hunger and the need for shelter and housing. Urbandale recognizes The Ottawa Mission as a key provider of these crucial services and an organization that aligns with our philanthropic goals. We will continue to support their dedicated staff and the wonderful programs they provide.”

The Mission and its guests extend a hearty thank-you to Urbandale for your faithful support of its life-changing programs, and for your recent donation of $65,000 for the new Mobile Mission Meals food truck!. These vital services would not be possible without thoughtful donors like you.

If you would like to learn more about how your employer or business can become more involved as a Business on a Mission, please contact Erin Helmer at 613-818-7313 or ehelmer@ottawamission.com. Together we can build a better community.

Building A Relationship Of Kindness

“Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves.” Matthew 14:19

Greg Huyer and Scott Rufolo met in England over 20 years ago after moving to Cambridge, Scott from the US and Greg from Canada. After finishing their studies in the UK, they moved to Baltimore, Maryland where Scott pursued a doctorate and Greg worked as a biomedical researcher. It was while living in downtown Baltimore that the couple regularly encountered people living on the streets and in local parks. Daily dog walks became opportunities for conversation with many homeless individuals.

“Encountering homelessness on a daily basis inspired us to act,” Greg says, “so we became involved in a program at our church called ‘Loaves and Fishes’ to prepare and serve food to the homeless in the inner city.” Greg and Scott moved to Ottawa 14 years ago. Their concern for the homeless continued once they settled here, and so Scott and Greg approached The Ottawa Mission as volunteers.

“We wanted to do something to help, and The Mission was an obvious fit,” Scott recalls. Greg began, as so many volunteers do, in the kitchen. Scott offered his support as a tutor with Stepping Stones. “We also became regular donors along the way. Our time as volunteers showed us how dedicated the staff at The Mission are, and how much of a difference The Mission makes in so many people’s lives.”

Scott and Greg have generously contributed a leadership gift to support the expansion of The DYMON Health Clinic, as well as a charitable gift in their wills. “We’re extremely fortunate to be in a position to support The Mission financially and we’re grateful for the relationship that we’ve built with The Mission over the years.” The Mission and its guests are eternally grateful for the generous support of kind donors like Greg and Scott. Thank you both!

If you would like more information, please contact Angie Kelly, Director, Major and Planned Giving at 613.234.1155 x 426 or by email at akelly@ottawamission.com.

One Volunteer’s Marathon Of Hope

Volunteers keep The Ottawa Mission up and running. If there was a prize ribbon for volunteering, it would certainly be pinned on David Barker, who recently tallied up a streak of 72 days in a row.

When David is not training for volunteer marathons, he serves as a social worker for The John Howard Society. His position there brought him in touch with the staff at The Mission. “When I first started, I did everything from the laundry to the clothing room,” David says, “but I got pulled into the kitchen one day when they needed help and it just felt like a fit.” A natural fit indeed for a fellow who is familiar with large-scale food preparation, serving up, as he does each summer, burgers and fries for hundreds of volunteers at Bluesfest.

You may have met David at one of The Mission’s many fundraising events, as his commitment extends beyond the walls on Waller Street. “I’ve helped out during occasions like the Blue Door Gala and Coldest Night of the Year,” he says, “and when they used to have fundraisers at Chapters bookstores.” David spent a few days volunteering at Inspiration Village in the Market during Canada 150 celebrations. A team of men residing at The Mission was hired to care for the site. “We helped raise awareness with visitors,” David recalls, “helped them understand what The Mission does, and tried to dispel the myths they had acquired about homelessness.”

All of this adds up to an admirable commitment of personal time and energy inspired by David’s belief in what The Mission does every day. “The work is extraordinary,” he states, “helping primarily homeless people who don’t have anything else in their lives. Everybody does their share, and being client-focused is the number one priority. It’s all about them, you can see the results, and that satisfies me the most. That’s why I keep coming back.” David is already aiming to break his own personal attendance record.

The Mission extends its gratitude to David and all of its wonderful volunteers and donors. You make such a difference in the lives of its guests who sincerely thank you.

Dignity For One And All

It is a matter of human dignity that no person should have to face the end of life alone. The Ottawa Mission’s Diane Morrison Hospice was founded by our retired Executive Director in 2001 to ensure that individuals in its care will be honoured in their final days. It is a unique facility and the first and largest of its kind within a shelter in North America, offering 24-hour palliative care to men and women who are homeless and dealing with a terminal or serious chronic illness. The 21-bed ward operates in partnership with Ottawa Inner City Health, a recognized leader in health and hospice care for the homeless, and is staffed by nurses, client-care workers and other health care professionals.

Yetty is the administrative coordinator of the hospice. She describes the fundamental belief behind all hospice practices as being centred on caring for the individual in a manner that takes a person’s sense of themselves into account. “What distinguishes The Mission’s care from other palliative care facilities is that we not only cater to people who are homeless or street involved, but who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness,” Yetty says. “We also support individuals who are terminally ill but are unable to access palliative care elsewhere due to addiction issues.”

Hospice staff work to foster a feeling of inclusion and a sense of worthiness and personal accomplishment while striving to lessen depression and enhance relationships within the patient’s community, including family members. Yetty describes “a holistic palliative care approach to support our clients’ needs, namely physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual support, during their stay with us. In addition, our hospice is a non-judgemental environment where our clients can be themselves and are treated with dignity, love, and compassion.” The Hospice offers a range of mainstream and alternative therapies, and hosts special celebrations for its guests at Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving.

In 2019-20, 59 patients were admitted to the Hospice and 30 men and women spent their final days in its loving care. Joseph was a 58-year old man who spent his near-motionless days reflecting back on his life. Colon cancer had dramatically shortened that life. Joe was born in Africville, the old ghetto in Halifax first settled by British slaves in the 18th century. He vividly recounted the pain induced by racist taunts uttered well into the 20th century. Memories of his grandmother caused Joe’s eyes to well up with tears. His dad was a conductor on the CN train route between Halifax and Montreal, running through what Joe described as “God’s country”. He described his father and his childhood home life in less flattering terms.

Joe moved to Toronto in his teens with the woman with whom he would have his large family. Photos of his handsome descendants, children and grandchildren cuddled up in happy groups, hung on the wall of his hospice room. Joe believed he tried his best as a dad, working at the Sheraton Toronto Centre hotel for many years, but a crack cocaine addiction ravaged his body, mind and home life. His family, now spread across Canada, could only drop by his room occasionally where they found a frail frame and a weakened spirit filled with regret.

“For The Mission to bring me back here, to show me the love and the care they show me now, I don’t know,” said Joe. “I tell you, without this place, where would we well be!?”

Hospice staff are steadfast in the belief that all persons are entitled to dignity and that no one should die alone. Guests who spend their finals days in residence consider The Mission to be their final home and, in many cases, the care staff to be their family in spirit. A memorial service is always held in the chapel offering an opportunity for friends, family and staff to share grief and memories. Names are also added to the Wall of Remembrance.

The staff and volunteers of The Diane Morrison Hospice are able to provide this sensitive caregiving because of the generosity and kind hearts of donors like you. Your gift of support ensures that guests who seek solemnity in the closing days of their lives shall receive it. These human souls are deeply thankful for your compassion.

Help The Ottawa Mission Feed the Hungry this Thanksgiving by Donating Frozen Turkeys

Ottawa, ON – As we head into the fall, planning is well underway for The Ottawa Mission’s annual Thanksgiving Dinner, which will take place on Monday October 14th, from 11:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at 35 Waller Street, Ottawa.

On any given day, the Ottawa Mission serves over 1,450 meals to shelter residents and those in need in the community. During Thanksgiving, The Mission will provide 2,000 – 3,000 meals for this special occasion for those who would otherwise go hungry.

“It takes between 80-100 large turkeys, or about 2500 pounds of turkey, to feed everyone who comes to our special Thanksgiving dinner,” says Chef Ric Watson, Director of Food Services at The Mission. “Our kitchen volunteers and staff are working very hard to ensure that to ensure everyone will have a delicious turkey dinner by preparing for this very special event in advance.”

Also on the menu will be: savory stuffing (30 pans); baked ham (300lbs); mashed potato (450lbs); corn niblets and roasted red peppers (350lbs); green beans almandine (350lbs); assorted pies (2500 units); fresh baked rolls (250 dozen); and giblet gravy (50 gallons).

In addition to warm and nutritious food, the Thanksgiving dinner provides a sense of shared community and fellowship to those in Ottawa who may otherwise not only go hungry, but also find themselves alone.

Frozen turkey donations can be dropped off anytime at The Ottawa Mission’s front desk, located at 35 Waller St. Arrangements can also be made to have donations picked up by calling 613-234-1144, ext. 248.

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 hope. In 2017- 2018, The Ottawa Mission sheltered an average of 236 men every night and served an average of 1,312 meals every day. The Ottawa Mission also provides health services, mental health and  addiction treatment programs, hospice care, dental services, educational support, job training, spiritual care, and men’s clothing to thousands in need in our community.


Aileen Leo
Director of Communications
T 613.234.1144 x 305
E-mail: aleo@ottawamission.com