TRURO – It took Andrea Thompson several minutes to gain her composure after hearing the organization she’s secretary of was the recipient of more than $10,000.
Thompson presented the case for the Truro Homeless Outreach Centre at the June meeting of 100+ Women Who Care Truro, alongside Jayne Hunter from the Literacy Association of Nova Scotia, and Barry Manuel of the Disaster Animal Response Team Colchester chapter.
“As you can tell, I am beyond excited. I’m over the moon. We’ve been looking forward to this since we found out we were nominated. It’s been talked about a lot. It’s really special to us because at the end of this month we will be purchasing our own building,” said Thompson.
Originally, the society was going to build on a property on Mill Street, thanks to the Town of Truro. However the society changed gears recently and went a different route.
“It was our engineer that we had that wanted to do some further testing on the property,” explained Thompson.
Depending on what was found on the property, the society could’ve been on the hook for anywhere between $10,000 and possibly $500,000.
“We weren’t comfortable spending the community’s money that way, so we walked away.”
With an extension from the First United Church until the end of August, the society was under pressure to find a spot, and they did. At the end of June, the society will take possession of 862 Prince St.,
The money the society will receive from 100+ Women Who Care Truro will go toward renovations of the building.
“To have an extra $10,000 is amazing,” said Thompson. “With our new building on Prince Street, we have some renovations to turn it from a hair dresser to a homeless shelter.”
Those renovations include adding a bedroom, bathrooms and kitchen, all of which will cost thousands of dollars.
“That (donation) will help toward that and making sure we’re able to operate and provide for everybody that needs us most.”
Renovations, she said, should start as soon as possible after taking possession of the building, with the hopes of being complete by mid-August.
During her presentation, Thompson told those gathered they saw approximately 150 clients in 2016. The shelter started year-round in April 2014, after the Out of the Cold program ran from Nov. 1 to March 31 for four years prior.
The seasonal program utilized a number of local churches, with First United Church offering space for the year-round shelter. The church extended the shelter’s stay until the society could find a permanent location.
“They have accommodated us so well over the last two years,” said Joshua Creelman, the society’s vice-chairperson. “We met with them and they said they were willing to work with us and support us.”
Thompson said the society couldn’t have offered their services without the church’s support.
“They were instrumental in us having a year-round shelter,” she added.
From the Out of the Cold program, Thompson said it was clear the year-round shelter was a necessity.
“On April 1, our guests were turned back to a life of living on the streets, in parks…anywhere they could find shelter until we opened back up on Nov. 1. Clients who seemed to be making progress during those winter months often suffered significant setbacks when they lost the support of those in the shelter.”
Currently, the society can accommodate 12 people, more if needed on cots, and are open to men and women over the age of 16. They work with those who are homeless, and those at-risk of being homeless.
The society has a community navigator who helps those integrate back into the community, whether it’s by helping find a permanent home, job, or even programs for issues such as addiction.
“People who are homeless are not a distinct or separate population,” said Thompson. “Homelessness knows no colour, or sex. Homelessness can affect all walks of life. It could be your brother, sister, friend, parent or coworker. What would you do if you came home from work one day to find your home gone? Where would you go? What would you do?”