Midland

Taking Support to the Streets

06
.18

In Midland, Ontario, spare change is still in demand, homeless people are looking for support and places to stay, and others on the fringe just need someone to talk to. Situations don’t change quickly but given the opportunity, they can.

In a rubber-meets-the-road type of ministry, The Salvation Army is combing streets, parks and trails—anywhere marginalized people can be found— to meet the needs of those who might never be comfortable coming into a Salvation Army building.

“This type of outreach is critical to contacting and working with hard-to-reach groups,” says front-line worker Denis. “We are meeting people on their own turf.” While he and coworker Tom ‘pound the pavement’ they connect, encourage and assist anyone who expresses a need for service or support.

“Issues we encounter range from poverty and homelessness to mental health, physical health concerns, prostitution and addictions,” says Denis. “We build relationships of trust so they have somewhere to turn to when they are ready to reach out and seek assistance.”

Street outreach is not a new concept for The Salvation Army. The Salvation Army began in 1852 as a Christian outreach to the hungry, homeless and poor people on the streets of London, England. Founder William Booth’s passion for the marginalized in need of comfort and hope laid a firm foundation for the organization.

Everyday Denis and Tom bridge gaps between hope and fear. As they strive to understand and evaluate problems, they not only give on-the-spot assistance, but link clients with community supports based on their needs.

“For some it is as simple as a pair of shoes, bus fare or directions to the nearest food bank,” says Denis. “For others it is as complex as securing a mental health assessment for someone displaying unhealthy behavior or referring someone to a detox facility.

“People are not in the margins by coincidence or without reason,” continues Denis. He recalls finding a 65-year-old woman living in her car. Unkempt, dirty and desperate, she wasn’t interested in help. A broken marriage, eviction and financial ruin left her trying to survive in her last major possession.

While it took some time for the woman to trust Denis, his continued interest in her well-being put him in a position to intervene. Today she lives in a seniors’ residence with supports such as counselling and medical attention.

At the end of the day, Denis and Tom have talked with dozens of people in different circumstances. Many ask for some kind of assistance, even if it’s just another visit.

 

2 Comments

ER

These individuals are inspiring community humanitarians who deserve our gratitude and continued support.

KFL

Its the work like that Denis and Tom do that make me feel proud to say that I am involved with the organization. With a street back ground and growing up in the circumstances that I had, I am very grateful to know that there is a street outreach. I feel that major cities in Canada need a street outreach program and with what Salvation Army has to offer in terms of help, the difference that they can make in someone’s life can last forever. The simplest of things will make a huge impact on anyone. The two who do the work are heros in my eyes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Jamie-Lynn (left) cuts cucumber with after-school participant

Teen Volunteers at Salvation Army After-School Program

02
.16

Jamie-Lynn started attending an after-school program at The Salvation Army in Kingston, Ont., when she was seven-years-old. Today, the 14-year-old volunteers at the same place where she learned how to read and write.

“After I learned how to read, write and do math, I passed school with flying colours,” says Jamie-Lynn. “I love it here.”

As a volunteer, Jamie-Lynn assists with anything from helping younger children do crafts to teaching others how to safely cut vegetables to helping with clean-up.

“It’s fun and […]

hurricaine matthew destroys house in Haiti

Salvation Army Disaster Relief Worker Gives First-Hand Account of Hurricane Matthew

02
.13

On October 4, 2016, Hurricane Matthew struck southwestern Haiti destroying close to 200,000 homes and leaving 14 million people in need of humanitarian aid. The Salvation Army was on the ground in Haiti immediately, providing basic food items and treatment through its clinic to people who were injured.

As the extent of the devastation became clear, international Salvation Army emergency services personnel were deployed to participate in community assessments, formulate projects and distribute food and non-food items to those devastated by […]