Following CTV/Vice’s airing of SteelTown Down a couple of weeks ago, there have been many conversations circulating in our community in regards to our health and social services.
Many people are asking why there is no help or funding. Many of us are ridden with disappointment and even embarrassment that, we, as a city have left the hurting and most vulnerable stranded with nothing.
While as a community we have a long way to go in managing and funding these issues, the pendulum also has to swing the other way. Portraying that we have nothing is doing a disservice to hard-working organizations out there right now helping Saulites who are struggling with their demons.
If these past couple weeks have taught me anything, it is that a huge component of the disconnect seems to be the lack of awareness/promotion for the resources available right now, for free.
And it is for that reason that on this brisk sunny afternoon in February, I decided to head down to our Neighbourhood Resource Centre (NRC) on Gore Street.
While I knew that NRC was a plethora of hardworking professionals and volunteers providing a variety of different services – my postgrad program did some event and fundraising work with Constable Troy Miller and his team at the NRC last year – I did not fully understand the scope nor magnitude of the work that is done out of that little building on Gore.
You’ll find Constable Troy Miller of the Sault Police Services doing community outreach there every week day.
The walls were lined with information. Brochures, pamphlets, and contact cards from more agencies than I could possibly wrap my head around, for more problems than I knew there was even services for.
My mind buzzed trying to digest all of the information, to process all of the agencies involved and what they provided.
I told Miller, “I am just looking for some resources that we can share on SaultOnline to let people know what is out there. I’ll just grab some brochures and take a look around then be out of your way.”
“Just a minute,” he said, “I can save you a lot of work.”
I was intrigued. I had planned on spending the better part of my day sifting through brochures.
I was pleasantly surprised to see a medical professional from Superior Family Health onsite taking people for check-ups, something that happens there every Thursday from 2pm-7pm.
Miller returned carrying a massive binder and handed it over to me.
As I flipped through the laminated pages, that answered questions about every issue from addictions to Alzheimer’s, pages upon pages of agencies, organizations, and the free services they offer in our region, I asked him, “So can anyone just come and flip through this, whenever?”
The answer is yes.
Miller explained to me, “You could come through these doors with a bag of problems, and say ‘I need help with these things and I don’t know what to do, or where to start.’ And we would be able to offer free services right now with the agencies we have on-site.”
I realized at that moment, all of the information is here. In this small building, downtown.
The holy grail of answers was just handed to me in the form of a massive three ring binder.
If the NRC and their partner agencies can’t help you, they can find someone who can.
I am a firm believer in the, often underestimated, power of knowledge. Anyone in a sticky situation should know what help is out there.
While you may feel that you don’t have time or energy to go down to Gore today and sift through the book to find what you need, maybe you’ll find the time tomorrow. Or the next day.
If you don’t need these services, be a friend and pass the information along to someone who does. Maybe you know someone that needs help, take them for a coffee at the NRC and try to at least take a first step with them. Volunteer your time, money, or resources to the various agencies and organizations that could use it.
We at SaultOnline recognize that in a crisis situation, heading down to Gore to start sorting out these issues may not be realistic. That is why there will be future “SteelTown Down- but not out” articles that will be archived by topic for quick reference.
While it is a known fact that a lot of these facilities need more funding in order to operate to their full functionality, it is crucial to those who need these services to know what is out there for them.
There are many passionate individuals in the community who are coming forward and sharing knowledge with us, and we hope to bring to light a clearer understanding of services for those in need, by topic.
Keep the conversation going. Don’t stop talking about the issues that CTV/Vice’s SteelTown Down has brought up.
We as a community need to work together to lift one another up. Progress can start from the bottom-up.
In future we will compile resources for shelter, addictions and other resources that are available now to help.
Don’t hesitate to share information with us. You never know when you could be helping someone in need.
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SteelTown Down, but not out! Need Food?
Listed here are the free food service providers available in our community to help put food on the table and help those in need to access nutritious food in a dignified way.
Salvation Army – One use every two months. Open Monday to Thursday Contact 705-759-4143, [email protected], or drop in for free coffee, snacks and some company at 78 Elgin St.
St. Vincent’s Place – Food bank Wednesdays from 6pm-8pm and Saturdays from 1pm-3pm that can be accessed once every two months. They have a soup kitchen Wednesdays at 5pm and Sundays at 11:30am, no restrictions. Contact 705-253-2770, [email protected], or stop in at 222 Albert St. E.
Soup Kitchen Community Centre – Monday to Friday free meal at noon as well as dinner October to April on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Sunday of every month. They also have a Good Food Box program and cooking classes. You can contact the Soup Kitchen at 705-942-2694, [email protected], or drop by at 172 James St.
First Baptist Church – Coffee with our Neighbours program at 9:00am every Tuesday from May to September. Contact 705-253-8711, [email protected], or visit 465 Albert St. E.
Batchewana First Nation – Food services for Batchewana First Nation members every Tuesday from 9am-11am and Thursday from 1pm-3:30pm once every two months. Call for more information at 705-759-0914 or visit 236 Frontenac St.
St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church – Food cupboard every Tuesday from October to May at 11:30am-1:30pm for monthly use. For more information, call 705-945-7885, visit 136 Cathcart St or reach on Facebook.
St. Andrew’s United Church – Neighbourhood Dinner on the second last Saturday of every month from 5pm-6pm. Contact 705-254-6661 or visit 712 Wellington St. E. They can also be reached on Facebook.
Our Lady of Good Counsel Church – Dinner service on the third Sunday of every month at 4:30pm. They can be reached at 705-942-8546, [email protected], or at 114 MacDonald Avenue.
Garden River Food Bank – Emergency food services for people living on the reserve on a weekly basis, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from 9am-12pm and 1pm-4pm. They can be found at 7 Shingwauk St. in Garden River, or contacted at 705-946-6300 or [email protected]
Elim Pentecostal Church – Free bags of food four times a year, with pick up on Tuesday and Sunday, must call ahead. Their hours are 9am-4pm, Tuesday to Friday, by appointment. Contact 705-942-2010, [email protected], or visit 306 McNabb St.
Indian Friendship Centre – Milk program from 9am-12pm on Fridays for Indigenous children. They also offer a lunch from 12pm-1:30pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Coffee Night on Thursdays. Visit 122 East St. or contact 705-256-5634 or [email protected]
Canadian Mental Health Association – Cheap meals for members. Located at 386 Queen St. E., and can be reached at 705-759-5989 or [email protected]
Phoenix Rising Women’s Centre – Free lunch Thursdays 11:30am-4pm for women and their children. Contact 705-759-5864, [email protected], or visit 596 Wellingston St. E.
Algoma Public Health – Prenatal program that helps to provide milk, food, and education for pregnant women in financial need. Visit 294 Willow Ave., or contact 942-4646.
Algoma Family Services – Student Nutrition Program which supports funding for meals and snacks for kids. Schools can get more information at 705-945-5050 or www.algomafamilyservices.org.
Neighbourhood Resource Centre – Provides food services to those in need. They also host community meals with No Strings Attached on the last Saturday of every month, from 4:30p-5:30pm and from 6pm-7pm. They give out tickets in advance and welcome walk-ins depending on space.
No Strings Attached also provides free toast, bagels, oatmeal, waffles, boiled eggs, fruit, coffee, hot chocolate, juice boxes and granola bars every Sunday from 9am-12pm at the Neighbourhood Resource Centre.
The Neighbourhood Resource Centre is located at 138 Gore St. and welcomes you to stop in and sift through their binder full of resources for various food providers for those in need. They are there to help and have access to a number of contacts that can assist.
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