Corporate staff roll up sleeves to help agencies

From The StarPhoenix

Woman of the Lighthouse Supported Living women’s shelter will now have a brighter place of refuge.

On Wednesday, eight corporate staff from Potash Corporation rolled up their sleeves and pitched to turn the unfinished shelter into a place that looks more like home.

DeeAnn Mercier, director of communications with Lighthouse Supported Living said the extra help could not come soon any sooner.

“We needed to use the building as soon as the space was available but we didn’t get to put those finishing touches towards it,” said Mercier.

“We’re so thankful for United Way and Potash Corp. for coming to give our woman’s shelter a little bit of a facelift, It’s through organizations like this that we’re able to go above and beyond and do better for our clients and they deserve better.”

The needed help is all part of United Way’s 13th annual Day of Care where local corporations and businesses spend a day to help community agencies and programs that receive assistance through United Way.

“We make the match between the agencies that need the assistance and the corporations that are willing to give a number of employees or if there is a financial (need) they are can sponsor as well,” said Myra Potter, director of resource development with the United Way.

More than 150 volunteers left the United Way’s pancake breakfast kick off, ready to help local organizations with building renovations, gardening and community events across the city.

Affinity Credit Union, SaskEnergy and the Canadian Blue Cross were just some of the major contributors.

Mosaic also donated their staff in helping Big Brothers Big Sisters of Saskatoon and Area with an indoor barbecue for children.

Last year, Potash Corp. donated $737,000 to the local United Way program and while with United Way said that cash donations are greatly appreciated, sometimes an organization just needs an extra hand around the house.

“Sometimes we have projects where we just need people with enthusiasm and commitment to get the job done. It’s really an example of United Way stepping out of the traditional fundraising model,” said Potter.

Potter believes the day not only benefits the organizations but also the volunteers themselves, prompting them continue to help their community in the future.

“(We are) reaching out to the community in different way and fulfilling our mission to be a volunteer and act. This is really connecting the donors to the community,” said Potter.

Built more than a century ago, the Lighthouse Supported Living shelter was originally a hotel, with numerous hotel chains owning the builder over the years.

The building was later donated to Lighthouse in 1997 to help women and men who experience poverty, homelessness and disabilities, housing 64 shelter rooms with a maximum occupancy of 68 people.

Three meals are given a day and are able to take various support programs.

A bingo hall once stood where the newly renovated, 21 bed woman’s shelter is now, which opened in January.

The shelter is part of new renovations at Lighthouse which will include a future nursing centre and employment centre.

A new building tower that will house 58 affordable living units will is also be added on.

A mural along with night tables, new bedding and care packages were some of the final touches Potash Corporation added to the women’s shelter.

“Women want to stay some place nice, some place that feels like home, where they feel secure. They are going through a very stressful and probably traumatic period in their life and we want to offer them a refuge and a safe place,” said Mercier.

“It’s transformational when you can take a day of your life and know that you’re really having an impact on somebody else’s life and that’s what its all about. I think the volunteers are transformed because they get step out of their typical day in the office and do something magical,” said Potter.

For information on how to volunteer in the community, call the United Way at 975-3477 or visit www.unitedwaysaskatoon.ca

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