Ottawa, ON – Today the Ottawa Mission released its annual Impact Report outlining its support of increasing numbers of vulnerable community members over its past fiscal year.
“Our community and our shelter has weathered over two years of the pandemic. Things look somewhat brighter now than they did earlier, but the lingering effects are still severe,” stated Mission CEO Peter Tilley. For example, the number of people sleeping outside has almost doubled, and there have been devastating increases in mental health problems, substance use and overdoses.
But the most severe change has been a shocking increase in hunger across Ottawa. “Prior to the pandemic, we served 495,360 meals annually. This past year, we served 938,218 meals. That means we served almost one meal for every person in Ottawa,” noted Chef Ric Allen-Watson, the Mission’s Director of Food Services.
In response to deepening hunger across our community, The Mission launched its food truck program in September 2020. Beginning with one truck and five stops, it served 500 meals per week. Since that time, it has expanded to two trucks and 32 stops serving over 7,000 meals per week. The Mission also operates a community meal program through its shelter, providing one hot and two cold meals to each person plus a small bag of groceries. This past fiscal year, the shelter handed out 62,624 bags of groceries. “Many clients have told us that they go hungry until our trucks come. Other clients have told us that our food truck helps them with family dinners since the cost of groceries has risen so much,” added Allen-Watson.
Despite the restrictions imposed by the pandemic over the past year, the shelter continued to support increasing numbers of vulnerable community members who have turned to it for help. Support has included:
Adam, a former client of The Mission now over 14 years sober, was provided support in addition to addiction treatment to reclaim his life, including help to secure affordable housing and supports to live independently. Adam works as a technician for Rogers. Through the company’s Employee Resource team, as an expression of his gratitude to The Mission, he organized the donation of 250 Bags of Hope with socks, hats, gift cards and other supplies, along with handwritten notes for Mission shelter guests to show them that they are cared for. Noting the importance of gratitude, “Altruism is what keeps me sober and happy. I have gold to share that’s worthless if kept to myself,” Adam stated.
Given the increased number of vulnerable people who rely on the Mission for help, Peter Tilley noted the importance of both continuing existing programs and also offering new programs to continue to meet this growing need. New programs that are part of The Mission’s new strategic plan will include:
“Poverty, homelessness and hunger are inextricably linked. We’re happy that we can provide nourishing food to so many in need, and have deep gratitude to our donors who support this service. But as a city and a society, we need to address the root causes of these problems to help even more people in need by stopping them from falling into poverty, homelessness and hunger to begin with,” 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 118 men every night and served an average of 2,570 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.
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