A Little Kindness Goes a Long Way
Local 501 members working for Salvation Army in downtown Nanaimo, BC, are on the front lines of the battle against homelessness and addiction.
Over 50 members are employed at New Hope Centre, a detox and shelter facility with 23 beds for men, and three thrift stores that support the centre.
Homelessness in Nanaimo reached a crisis in the spring and summer of 2018 when a tent city was erected on municipal industrial land to provide shelter for over 300 people for a number of months. The city spent upward of $600,000 managing and cleaning up the site.
The Salvation Army’s battle against homelessness benefited from an infusion of government funds targeted for Nanaimo to help with the crisis. The Local 501 members helping the homeless include shelter workers, personal development plan workers, and maintenance and kitchen staff. They take great pride in their work with those who are in need in downtown Nanaimo.
“My work at the Salvation Army began almost 20 years ago,” says Brenda Shanahan, a personal development plan worker. “It has been an honour to assist so many people through the years. I have seen many lives changed over the years through referrals to treatment and providing rental subsidies to help people find an affordable place to live. The Salvation Army motto is Giving Hope Today. I like to think that is what we are all here to do—to offer hope.”
“We see men in all different stages in their lives,” says Meena Manhas, a shelter worker. “Every day, we see someone trying to find a job, save money, trying to find an apartment, going to a meeting, trying to change their lives. They work toward breaking out of the cycle of homelessness, which is extremely hard to do. That’s what motivates me to work in the shelter.”
“I truly believe that every human being has the right to be treated with dignity and respect,” says Susan Oullet, a shelter worker. “When it comes to helping break the cycle of homelessness, a little kindness and compassion can go a long way.”