It’s summer. And things are heating up!
Usually when summer arrives and winter is officially behind us, it’s a symbol of a time to come up for air, take a deep breath, and enjoy the slower pace of life and work for a couple of months.
But when you’re homeless, there’s no such thing as summer holidays.
There are no cottage plans.
No vacations to exotic destinations.
No long weekends.
In the streets it is business as usual. And at Gateway we are finding that to be true as well. We are very busy. There is much to do.
Here are some updates as to what we’re currently up to in order to do our best to respond to the needs and hopes of our friends on the streets;
1. All of the shelters in Toronto have been full since July of last year. So we have been asked to open 10 more beds, taking our total number of beds per night to 118. As space is an issue for us, we have purchased bunk beds and installed 5 of them on each floor of our dorms. We are now officially a 118-bed shelter and are still full and very busy.
2. 10 extra beds bring a domino effect with it that must be taken into consideration. With those beds comes extra revenue from our funder. But it also brings extra pressure on our building, our food and laundry services, and our staff. So with that extra revenue we will be hiring a 3rd case manager, which will be a dramatic improvement on our capacity to respond to our residents more comprehensively. As we don’t have an office for that case manager, we are renovating a little corner of our building in order to house that new employee. This is very exciting for us but is keeping us on our toes.
3. We also want to improve the condition of our drop-in and its washrooms. Right now they look worn down and institutional due to all of the traffic that we get every single day. So we have submitted a funding proposal in hopes of being able to replace the drop-in floor to make it look and feel warmer and less institutional. We are also hoping to renovate our drop-in washrooms so as to create a more dignified space to take care of the most basic of human needs.
4. Our Gateway Linens program is looking to expand. We have a proposal in for a very large contract that, if we get it, will double our whole program over night. It would take us to a 2nd 8-hour shift, add twice as many staff, and double the number of people we can train in our program.
5. I’m very pleased about the addition of our new volunteer coordinator/ community life director and newest member of our program management team, Jake Aikenhead. Since his arrival, we have organized and played in a softball tournament, are running a dental hygiene clinic, host Friday night games nights, developing a monthly concert series, planning an arts group, and are getting ready for our summer residents retreat up north. He is an exciting addition to our team.
These are just a few of the things we are up to that are keeping us very busy, to say the least. It is indeed a very hot summer. If you’re the praying type, we could definitely use your prayers in the coming weeks as we wait to hear from proposals, renovate spaces, and keep the Gateway moving steadily onwards towards our mission to be
‘THE HAND OF GOD IN THE HEART OF THE CITY’.