Do you ‘care to act’? Sault College nursing students do

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The delay of spring has been an annoyance for many community members. But for those facing unstable housing the cold nights hit a little bit harder.

City council is overviewing the current emergency warming shelter plan, but a group of third year nursing students think we need to do more to support our fellow community members. 

“Our goal is to raise awareness and money for local shelters and organizations like Habitat for Humanity that provide direct support to people in the community experiencing homelessness or an unstable housing situation.” says Liisa George.

Homelessness and unstable housing can have a huge impact on someone’s health. In class, these students learned about health inequalities and how they can affect their patients.

Simple things like not having an address means no health card. No health card means access to health services or medication.

On top of everything, there is stigma and discrimination that people face when they are homeless.

In this sense, while healthcare, health issues, and health scares are problems that we all face, homeless people and those who lack a permanent address further isolate those suffering and creates intricate silos in our community.

Silos that often lead to people slipping through the cracks.

“Our local shelters do an amazing job at providing what they can for community members in need but I don’t think that the general public has an idea of how much of an impact homelessness has on someone,” states Jennifer Lalonde.

She shared of her personal experience, “Housing instability had a huge impact on my grades, my weight and basically everything I did. Once I was able to find a place, I started to really thrive.

I wouldn’t be here otherwise, and I want to help others in that situation. This isn’t just a school project for me, it’s a way to give back to the community that helped me. ”

The shelters and non-profit organizations in town do incredible work, but they are limited by funding and other resources.

These organizations rely on government funding and grants, volunteers and the fundraising they do throughout the year.

Jason Garside has acted on a board of directors throughout his past work, and understands the impact that cash donations can have.

“Organizations can direct monetary donations towards project areas that need it. Food drives and donations of household items are always welcome but they can’t be used to pay the light bill,” he explained.

Social Advocacy
(Left to right) Liisa George, Jennifer Lalonde, Jason Garside, and Jessica Grandy, third year nursing students promoting a campaign on homelessness in the Sault for their course work.

The group is aware that not everyone will be able to donate money.

“Not everyone will be able to give money and as a university student I totally understand that,” says Jessica Grandy, “I try my best to volunteer or share social media posts to raise awareness about issues. There are other things you can do to help out in the community.”

There are so many ways to give back to the community that do not require you to donate if you can’t do so.

Please spread the word and consider donating time, money or gently used items to the organizations below.

Share this article and use the hashtag #HelpOutSaultSteMarie to help show your support for those in need!

Habitat for Humanity

Women in Crisis

St. Vincent’s Place

 Pauline’s Place

From an awareness perspective, I applaud the Sault College nursing students and their professors for creating a curriculum that requires them to do this kind of research and reach out.

It speaks to facets of healthcare that may not be visible on the surface, but surely do affect someone’s overall health and well-being, as well as their access to healthcare.

(Another group from the same class has worked on an advocacy project of a similar nature involving access to menstrual health products. That story can be found here).

For more information on SaultOnline’s outreach and research into homelessness in Sault Ste. Marie, click here.

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