“We have gifts for everybody. We collect gifts throughout the year and we have gifts for all the folks on the independent side, as well as the supported side,” fundraising and communicating coordinator Anna Pacik said.
Gifts vary, but most contain basic necessities such as socks, toothpaste and shampoo. Lighthouse residents will open the gifts before a Christmas Eve dinner.
The Lighthouse knows the holiday season isn’t cheerful for everyone and can often be a reminder of what’s missing.
Raelene Carter is a resident at the Lighthouse and isn’t able to be with some family members this Christmas. She is battling addiction and said the Lighthouse’s services have helped her get back on her feet and has given her hope.
“Trauma, PTSD, anxiety and depression are things I have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. But, at least I’m in an environment where I can talk about it without feeling like there’s something tremendously wrong with me,” Carter said.
“There’s nothing wrong with me — I just need help.”
The Lighthouse is able to provide its services through funding from Social Services, the Ministry of Health and community donations. Mental health services were reduced in 2019 because of decreased funding.
“Mental health issues go hand-in-hand with homelessness. Not always, but very often,” Pacik said.
Despite the shortfalls, Carter said the staff go above and beyond year-round to remind residents they care.
“We offer that not only in the sense of getting the food, the shelter and the clothing but also being able to be around other people who are going through the same things,” Carter said.