Since opening its doors in 1990, Souls Harbour Rescue Mission has served well over 1,500,000 meals, given away more than 300,000 pieces of clothing and provided in excess of 55,000 nights of emergency shelter! In addition to this, those participating in our addiction programs have received more than 50,000 hours of class time and over 1,800 counselling sessions! During the last twenty four years we have changed locations numerous times, mostly out of necessity, as the buildings became unusable. Such is the case once again where the current building that houses our men’s shelter, free clothing store, and soup kitchen is coming to the end of its life. The maintenance costs for this building are escalating, it’s over a 100 years old, and it’s already been ‘revived’ on a major scale once. In addition we’ve also outgrown the place!
It’s hard to believe that each day we use this building to serve an average of 200 meals, hand out free clothing to anyone in need, and provide a safe place to stay for a minimum of 12 men. In spite of our efforts, many men are still forced to find another place to sleep. Over the years we have endeavoured to be good stewards of what we’ve been provided with, often stretching the resources we’ve been given to the absolute maximum!
Souls Harbour Rescue Mission is called to serve those in need. It is the reason each of our staff get up in the morning, and collectively we strive to serve our many guests by being good stewards of all the resources we’ve received. Stewardship is something we take very seriously, and it’s the motivation behind this project to replace our aging Soup Kitchen and Emergency Shelter.
We embrace both sides of the old adage, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Our emergency services, such as our Men’s Shelter, Soup Kitchen, and Free Clothing Store strive to meet that need of giving a man a fish so he is fed and cared for the day; however the programs in our daycare, youth center, and addiction services strive to teach our guests the skills which will help them become able to feed themselves for a lifetime. We are not the answer to all our social woes but we do our best to address them.
In the Bible there is a story of the Good Samaritan. In this story there was a person walking along the road when they were mugged and beaten up by a robber. Many people passed by, even ‘crossing to the other side of the street’ to avoid having to ‘deal’ with this wounded broken person. After a while, a Samaritan comes along and notices this individual. They help the person onto their animal and take them to an Inn; where the Samaritan delivers the beaten up person to the Inn-keeper, providing a small sack of coins to help with the care of the stranger. The Samaritan leaves, telling the Innkeeper that they’ll be back to cover any other costs that the Innkeeper may incur in caring for this person.
Today, we need to build a new Inn and so we are asking all of you Good Samaritans to help us with this project! We have developed a sustainable model that embraces and invites stewardship at every level. We want the story of this new ‘Inn’ – this new Soup Kitchen (and more) to be all about reclamation and care at every level.In this story, our donors have shown themselves as being the Good Samaritan over and over again. We are privileged that so many people see Souls Harbour Rescue Mission as being that Innkeeper, one in whom they trust with the care of others. We are honored to serve those whom God brings to us and we are thankful that there are many Good Samaritans out there who help us do this work through their volunteer time and their financial donations.
The story of this new ‘Inn’ begins with the location. Today, there are numerous ‘brownfields’ littered throughout the city of Regina; old abandoned gas station sites where the soil is most likely contaminated. We want one of these pieces of land, and in our first act of reclamation we will redeem the land itself. The Federal government has set aside a special fund to help municipalities deal with the clean-up of brownfields and we’re hoping to access it. We would like a lot within the North Central area. Such a location would allow us to provide much needed services to those within the community without forcing them to travel to our current location on the other side of the downtown core.
We also want the new building to be ‘LEED’ certified. In a sense ‘LEED’ certification means ‘going green’, and it incorporates a variety of standards including things like using recycled steel, storm water recycling, being close to a bus stop, solar energy, and so on. Our environmental stewardship will continue through the use of existing partnerships, such as with Lorass Disposal, to continue to put into place a variety of premium recycling programs. We believe this story of redemption, from the reclaiming of a brownfield, to an environmentally friendly building, to the sustainability of the very operation of the building through various energy initiatives (reducing our carbon footprint), will appeal to many stakeholders, as such a project has not been done by any another Inner-city Mission in North America.
The building design itself will be simple and innovative with respect to space usage. As an example our new dining room, which will hold close to double the people as our current dining room, will convert to the men’s shelter in the evenings. This means we can easily double the capacity of our men’s shelter from 12 to 24 spaces; and still have extra space for emergency overflow! In addition we will utilize a cafeteria style dining room in order to maximize both space and function for the flow of the building. The concept of converting the dining room to a shelter space is not new, and has proven to be effective in creating a sense of community and connection between the men. The men will be able to eat, then help with the clean-up, put away the tables and chairs, and then bring out the cots for the night.
We have also added a second floor to this building which will be used for transitional housing. As we all know, even given that Saskatchewan’s economy is growing, homelessness and affordable housing is still a provincial problem. We alone can’t solve this problem but we certainly see ourselves as being part of the process in helping someone make the transition from a homeless shelter to a home.
We are proposing to build five, 4-bedroom community units for men, which will provide 20 transitional rooms. The idea behind the 4-bedroom units is to allow four men to live together, each with their own room, but with shared living space, bathroom, and kitchen. They would each pay a nominal fee and would live in cooperation and community with one another. This type of living arrangement will provide semi-independent living, while allowing the ‘working homeless’ an opportunity to save up money to move out on their own. This living space would be considered a ‘dry’ home. The income generated from these transitional suites would pay for the taxes, utilities, and insurance on this entire building. This means that your donor dollars could go directly to more emergency service initiatives, such as free clothing, meals, and a safe place to stay in our shelters each night.
In conclusion we will have reclaimed a contaminated lot, built an environmentally friendly “green” building, and utilized the space to invite our end-users into community, contributing to the services provided to them – in a sense learning how to fish while being fed a fish.
We would like to build this new ‘Inn’ and increase the services that we already provide, but we can’t do it without your help! So we are asking all of you Good Samaritans to help us. Would you consider a donation today?
For more donation information please contact Michael Towers (Director of Operations) or myself at [email protected]