Lighthouse opens new soup kitchen

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Fresh, free food for the city’s needy is now on the menu at a downtown shelter.

The Lighthouse has opened a new soup kitchen at its downtown headquarters. The shelter will now provide free meals to the public twice a week.

For people like Harry McLeod, the new community kitchen is welcome.

“It’s important for families who are struggling for food and shelter,” McLeod told reporters Monday at the kitchen’s grand opening.

McLeod spent years on the street and now lives at The Lighthouse. While the new kitchen is aimed at helping people who don’t already live at the assisted living facility, he said he looks forward to frequenting the new kitchen.

Aside from cooking free suppers twice a week, the newly renovated kitchen will also provide cooking classes for people who want learn to cook healthy meals on their own.

The Lighthouse’s DeeAnn Mercier said the new kitchen will be a valuable resource for people who struggle to make ends meet.

“When rents go up, a lot of people take money out of their food budget in order to pay their bills, so money becomes very tight. There is just not enough to go around,” Mercier said.deeann

Other popular soup kitchens in Saskatoon, like the one at the Friendship Inn on 20th Street, don’t serve supper, Mercier noted. That means people on the street still go hungry at night.

The shelter expects as many as 60 people to frequent the free meal service in the first few months. After the holidays, demand will like increase, Mercier predicted.

The kitchen will be fully staffed by volunteers and its shelves will be stocked with donated food. Mercier said she hopes the kitchen will bring in new people to The Lighthouse.

“They will come in, get to know us and we can talk to them, maybe before they lose their house,” she said.

Cameco provided the funding to renovate the kitchen and plans to help staff it with volunteers.

Lighthouse Pop-Up Shop in Centre Mall this weekend and next!

 

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Thank you to those you stopped by and gave to the Lighthouse Pop-Up Shop. We are located in the Centre Mall this weekend and next, asking for your donations to help those who are experiencing homelessness this winter. You can also donate via this very site! Click www.lighthousesaskatoon.org/givehope/.

Your donations help us expand the good work the Lighthouse is already doing in the community. This year your donations have helped with such various things such as expanding the hours of the Mobile Outreach, purchasing bug-proof mattresses, and helping purchase art supplies for Saturday programming.

To read more about the Lighthouse Pop-Up Shop read this great article from the Metro News which you can read here.

A video will be coming soon!

“The Wrong Person Died”

David Ristow was lying next to his partner when she was shot and killed. He survived the bullet but the mental scars remain

First he bought the booze. It was a bottle of Bacardi white rum. After downing it, he went to a Dollar Store and bought a cheap box cutter.

Then, on a fall day more than a year ago, David Ristow settled himself down in an alley on Second Avenue between some garbage cans.

“I sat there, I cut my neck open,” Ristow said.

“I had had enough. I didn’t want to deal with things anymore. I just wanted to die. I just wanted to get it over with.”

This was not the first time Ristow tried to take his own life. Ever since his common-law wife Susan Reinhardt was shot and killed by her ex-husband while he laid next to her in bed, Ristow’s life had been on a downward spiral. Sitting in that alley, bleeding from his neck, he thought only of Reinhardt. He was scheduled to testify at the trial for her murder that week.

“I kept thinking if there was an afterlife then I will be with her, I will join her,” Ristow said.

Ristow was sleeping next to Reinhardt in their Fourth Avenue North apartment on July 15, 2006 when George Allgood fired a 12-gauge shotgun through an open patio door. Ristow woke up and felt a “big hunk of skin” on his side. The bed was wet from blood. Ristow said he didn’t know what happened. Eventually, it was a city homicide

detective who broke the news that Reinhardt had been murdered.

From that moment on and for the better part of a decade his life fell apart, he says. He drank, he collected government cheques, and did little else.

“I had nothing all of sudden. I didn’t know what to do. I’m not really sure what I did for a couple of years. I can’t even remember, but it wasn’t much,” Ristow said. That’s when he found his way to The Lighthouse. Dennis Bueckert remembers first seeing Ristow when he walked into a weekly recovery meeting hosted at the shelter.

“At that time I knew nothing about him,” Bueckert said.

“I was floored when I first heard about this because I didn’t realize what this guy had been through.”

Ristow is no stranger to the criminal justice system. He left school when he was 17 and, according to court records, was convicted of armed robbery a year later. In 1997 he assaulted his common-law wife. In the intervening years, he had convictions for impaired driving. For much of his adult life, his run-ins with police didn’t stop.

He said he was slowly piecing his life back together when he met Reinhardt at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. As is custom, he gave Reinhardt his phone number and offered her support in her recovery. A month later she phoned him in the middle of the night. A week after that, they were living together in Reinhardt’s house.

The couple began holding weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in their living room. It was a popular meeting, Ristow said, partly because the city’s smoking ban didn’t apply.

“It was the only meeting in the whole city where you could smoke … drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes is a joy,” Ristow laughed.

It took Ristow seven years to find his way to The Lighthouse after Reinhardt’s murder. Part homeless shelter, part affordable living complex, the Lighthouse offered Ristow shelter from the street and valuable work experience.

Even once he was offered a spot in the shelter’s work training program, he still struggled with alcohol.

And when George Allgood’s murder trial began, painful memories resurfaced for Ristow. That was the last time he tried to kill himself.

“The wrong person died. She was the better person. He should have killed me

and she should be the person still alive,” Ristow said.

Ristow has been sober for two months now. He is on medication for depression. He spends most of his days sorting laundry and donated clothes. The shelter pays him $150 a month for his work, money that supplements his social assistance cheques.

He says he wants people to know about life inside the Lighthouse, to let people know that the people living alongside him are real people – not just homeless strangers asking for change. In the last year, he says, he has developed a special affinity for the homeless people who are taken to the social detox centre at the Lighthouse, people who are often too intoxicated to go anywhere else.

“I’m pretty popular with most of the guys, because I’m like that. You need clean socks? Come talk to me, I’ll get you some clean socks,” Ristow said.

When he isn’t working he spends time in a small room watching cable news. It’s hard, he says, not to think about Reinhardt.

“It comes on strong every once in a while and I have myself a good cry,” he said.

Allgood’s lawyers are appealing his first-degree murder conviction. Allgood was only arrested after he confessed to the shooting, to an undercover police officer at the end of a four-month operation that included police faking an execution-style shooting in Yukon.

After Allgood’s conviction in January, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the police technique, known as the ‘Mr. Big’ sting tactic, was unreliable. That ruling will be central to the appeal.

Bueckert, who continues to work closely with Ristow, says he still has a ways to go.

Eventually, he would like to see Ristow get his own home and a steady job.

“What I would like to see is David in his own house somewhere. Settled and stable and then coming back and telling us how it’s going. That’s my dream,” Bueckert said.

Ristow is hopeful for the same things himself. While he continues to struggle with alcohol, he hopes one day he will be sober enough to get a job working at the Lighthouse, helping others.

“I’d really like to get a job here,” he said.

Hours Expanded at the Lighthouse Stabilization Unit Pilot Project

Just in time for tIMG_9021he cold weather the Lighthouse Supported Living Inc. has reached a donation milestone enabling the expansion of the hours of their Mobile Outreach for an additional two hours, now running from 4:00pm to 10:00pm. The Lighthouse Supported Living Inc. is a non-profit housing provider offering emergency shelter, supported living and affordable housing for those in need. The LMO teams engage homeless and street entrenched individuals for the purpose of assessing need and then assisting them in accessing shelter, health services, and various social services.

The Lighthouse Mobile Outreach (LMO) service began on February 18, 2014. Since that time two Lighthouse staff, using a refurbished ambulance have been out in the community of Saskatoon between the hours of 5:00pm until 9:00pm, seven days a week.

“The Mobile Outreach was receiving many calls to transport individuals during the day but we did not previously have the resources to run it for longer hours,” said Dennis Bueckert, Director of Client Services at the Lighthouse. “Ideally we would like to see the Mobile Outreach available for those in need 24 hours a day. These additional two hours are an important step in the right direction.”IMG_9228

“It is really thanks to the community we are able to expand this service,” said DeeAnn Mercier, Director of Fundraising and Communications for the Lighthouse. “All funds collected through The Amazing Race – Lighthouse Edition went towards the Mobile Outreach as well as recent donations from churches, foundations, and many individuals.”

From its inception in February over 700 individuals have been assisted via the Mobile Outreach. Averaging 10 service encounters per night over the first 6 months, there were 1724 person-service encounters. Of those served there was a 4 to 1 male/female ratio.

IMG_9030LMO contacts occur because of calls received regarding vulnerable individuals needing assistance. Additionally, many contacts are made by LMO staff initiating contact while out on the street or by individuals themselves approaching them directly.

In the first few months after LMO service began, the heaviest proportion (40%) of requests for service came from Brief and Social Detox (BSD). Also during the initial months, local residents/businesses accounted for another 30% of requests on average. These two sources of referral have diminished significantly to where in May, June and July, Brief and Social Detox accounted for only 8% and requests from local residents/businesses has become negligible. By contrast, “street level” contacts have grown from very few to now constituting upwards of 68% of the total requests. This is indicative of the LMO team’s successes in establishing trust with vulnerable, unstably housed or homeless individuals and of their effectiveness in diverting them into more appropriate shelter.

Most LMO client contacts in the community involve relationship building, personal support, providing service information and sometimes providing food, water or socks. A good number of the requests result in transportation to access services.

Two thirds of all LMO referral are for the Lighthouse Stabilization Unit’s (LSU) services. General shelter, LSU services and BDU services accounted for 43% of all support services which LMO helped 50% of all transported individuals to the LSU, 10% to other Lighthouse Shelters, 9% went to Brief and Social Detox. Of all referrals, 10-15% were for assistance in accessing medical facilities or medical services.

The Lighthouse Mobile Outreach vehicle was purchased thanks to funds from the Saskatoon Community Foundation, with support for staffing from the Communities Initiatives Fund and the RUH Foundation Community Mental Health Endowment Granting Program.

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Community Initiatives Funds

 

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Your donations make a difference! Please consider becoming a monthly donor to keep initiatives like the Mobile Outreach on the road. 

Support from BATC Community Development Corporation announced for Lighthouse Supported Living Emergency Shelter to open in North Battleford

The BATC Community Development Corporation (BATC CDC) announced today a grant of $275,000 to the Lighthouse Supported Living for the development of a new emergency shelter in North Battleford. A cheque presentation today at 11 am welcomed the Lighthouse to the Battlefords.

Left to Right: Yourself, Chief Lori Whitecalf of Sweetgrass First Nation, Mayor Ian Hamilton, Chief Dan Starchief of Mosquito First Nation, Don, Kelly Atcheynum - General Manager, Gold Eagle Casino, Oscar Gopher - Councillor for Saulteaux First Nation. Please have Chief Ben Weenie acknowledged for his prayers. (Chief Whitecalf, Chief Starchief, and Councillor Gopher are members of the BATC CDC Board of Directors. Thank you, Vivian

Left to Right: DeeAnn Mercier – Lighthouse Communications Directior, Chief Lori Whitecalf of Sweetgrass First Nation, Mayor Ian Hamilton, Chief Dan Starchief of Mosquito First Nation, Don Windels – Lighthouse Executive Director, Kelly Atcheynum – General Manager, Gold Eagle Casino, Oscar Gopher – Councillor for Saulteaux First Nation. Thank you to Chief Ben Weenie for his prayers. (Chief Whitecalf, Chief Starchief, and Councillor Gopher are members of the BATC CDC Board of Directors.)

The Lighthouse will be providing emergency shelter for those experiencing homelessness, 3 meals a day for those who are staying there, and programming and support to help individuals find and retain housing in the Battlefords.FullSizeRender

“When a group from the Battlefords approached the Lighthouse to inquire what steps were needed to secure a 24-hour emergency shelter, it seemed like a natural fit for the Lighthouse to be the organization that lead the project,” Executive Director of the Lighthouse Supported Living, Don Windels said. “Our work in Saskatoon running an emergency shelter and Stabilization Unit has prepared us for some of the issues we know individuals are experiencing in the Battlefords.”

“BATC CDC is pleased to a part of an initiative that meets our vision of supporting the development of healthy communities,” Chairperson of BATC CDC, Neil Sasakamoose said.  “The Lighthouse will provide a safe and warm environment at any hour, on any given day, especially in our winter months.”

“To have a facility that will provide support and resources to the people of our First Nations, the Battlefords and surrounding communities, will only be a benefit,” said Chief Lori Whitecalf of Sweetgrass First Nation. Chief Whitecalf is a Board of Director with BATC CDC and is also the Tribal Chair for Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs.

The Lighthouse has already purchased a property in downtown North Battleford for use as a shelter but the building requires extensive upgrades including a proper fire suppression system. The shelter expects to open its doors to those who are homeless or struggle to find a safe place to live in November. The grand opening of the Lighthouse Supported Living Emergency Shelter in North Battleford will be announced at a later date.

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A men’s and women’s dorm as well as a separate area for those who are intoxicated will be in the facility, as well as rooms for families. Admission to the shelter will be denied to highly intoxicated and/or violent individuals who may pose a threat to themselves or others. In those cases, the police will be called.

The Lighthouse currently operates an emergency shelter for men and women, supported living suites, and independent affordable housing suites in Saskatoon. Additionally, the Lighthouse opened a Stabilization Unit last summer for those who are intoxicated or under the influence of drugs to provide a safe, supervised place to sleep.

About BATC Community Development Corporation:

BATC Community Development Corporation (BATC CDC) is responsible for distributing a portion of the Gold Eagle Casino profits by providing financial support to non-profit and charitable organizations. Our area of support includes the Battlefords and surrounding communities, the First Nations within Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs and Battlefords Tribal Council, and several independent First Nations. BATC CDC continually meets its vision of supporting the development the healthy communities, by implementing the core value, “improving the quality of life”.

To see pictures from the announcement click here. To donate towards the Battlefords Emergency Shelter click here.

For more information, contact:

 

DeeAnn Mercier

The Lighthouse Supported Living Inc.

Email: deeann.mercier@lighthousesaskatoon.org

 

 

Vivian Whitecalf, General Manager

BATC Community Development Corporation

Email: vivian.whitecalf@batc.ca