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This was our dilemma; our current soup kitchen and men’s shelter located at 1836 Halifax Street was rapidly coming to the end of its life. The maintenance costs for this building were 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 Men’s 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 centre, 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.

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 honoured 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.

We have developed a sustainable model that embraces and invites stewardship at every level. The story of this new ‘Inn’ – this new Soup Kitchen (and more) is all about reclamation and care at every level.

The story of this new ‘Inn’ begins with the location. Years ago, Souls Harbour Rescue Mission purchased a piece of contaminated land on Angus Street. The property was an environmental disaster, contaminated with lead, sulphuric acid, and so on! After a great deal of effort (including moving a lot of dirt!), and with the help of many other organizations we were able to reclaim the land itself, as the first step towards our overall vision of a complete holistic stewardship & reclamation process!

As the need for a new facility arose, we took the next step in this process by constructing a new environmentally “GREEN” building that not only met the ever increasing need for our services, but ushered in another level of stewardship by incorporating ‘LEED’ certified process’s like being close to a bus stop, using recycled steel, storm water recycling, a thicker building envelope (less heat requirements), solar energy, and so on.

Our environmental stewardship will continue through the use of existing partnerships, such as with Loraas Disposal, to continue to put into place a variety of premium recycling programs. We believe this story of redemption, from the reclaiming of the land, 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 other Inner-city Mission in North America.

The building design itself is innovative with respect to space usage. As an example our new dining room, which holds double the people as our old dining room, will convert to the men’s shelter in the evenings. This means we doubled the capacity of our men’s shelter from 12 to 24 spaces. And … after the men have eaten, they can help with the clean-up by putting away the tables and chairs, and bringing out the cots for the night; creating a sense of community and connection.

The second floor of this building houses a subsidized 60 spot daycare and 6 suites, while the third floor hosts another 14 suites for affordable housing. As we all know, 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, and in a sense, even growing the continuum of care by offering daycare as well.

So, in conjunction with the buildings “GREEN” practices (and the savings related to that), the income generated from the housing suites and the daycare 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.

Read more about the project: