An Ontario church community says the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t stop them from seeing great results in their program aimed to help the homeless.
Beth Emmanuel Church, a chapel in London’s SoHo neighbourhood, introduced a program in 2019 and took it one step further this year.
The Urban Haven Project provided shelter as well an opportunity to connect homeless men with services such as education, finding work, and if needed, addiction counseling.
The pastor says the program had a rocky start in January.
There were issues with the city’s bylaw office over tents that were set-up on the church’s property for the homeless.
Morand said finding an insurance company was difficult too.
The program, with 22 selected men enrolled was forced to start a week late.
The pastor said on the Craig Needles Show Friday morning the past few months went “really, really well.”
According to Morand, a third of the men found work, either part-time for full-time. A once-electrician went back to work in the industry, and a carpenter did too.
But the pastor says the “big shocker” was the story of a past-nurse.
“I don’t know the end of the story, but I believe there was a [reunion] with his wife and child.”
Due to COVID-19, the last few weeks of the program didn’t turn out the way Morand imagined at the beginning.
“In the last weeks… we actually isolated everybody… they were fine with that. We made sure they were entertained and had food.”
“We’re no different than anybody else. We had to rethink things on the fly and do things differently,” explained the pastor.
Other than the program, the church also provides food for community members in need, but they have had to take a pause due to the virus.
Morand says they hope to be able to provide food again in May.
“But we can see ourselves doing more outreach than food,” he said.
“People are coming to get a meal, and they’re going right away, but nobody’s taking the time to check in with them and talk with them… We see that as maybe our niche.”
In the meantime, the pastor says he and his team have a list of people they call every day to check up on their well-being.
Morand is also making plans to turn the Urban Haven Project into a permanent one.View link »