The Lighthouse Supported Living Annual General Meeting is tomorrow, March 29th at 7:00pm in the Lighthouse dining room. 304 2nd Ave S, entrance is on 20th St. We will share about the work done by the Lighthouse including expansion of services and uplifting stories of lives changed in 2015. All are welcome to attend.
Over 200 walkers together raised over $52,000 for the Coldest Night of the Year walk in Saskatoon which raised funds for the Bridge and the Lighthouse. Thanks also to the Saskatoon Transit, Co-op and PotashCorp for their support!
This morning we celebrate the life of Jamie who passed away last week. The following article was published in the Lighthouse Newsletter in June. Jaime maintained her sobriety till the end of her life and was proud to celebrate 15 months sober at the Lighthouse.
Born and raised in Kindersley, Jamie left home at seventeen to travel the world. She has visited over ten countries in her life and lived in California for fifteen years.
After a year in Europe, where she spent time in France, England, Spain, Morocco, Egypt and Algeria, Jaime lived in New York for six months. From there she returned to Canada and lived in Toronto and Vancouver briefly. She then toured Mexico in a VW camper van with her first husband, and eventually found her way to San Diego and Los Angeles.
“I’m a Sagittarian. Sagittarians are travelers early on and then later on in our lives we settle down,” says Jamie. True to her sign, she has been in Saskatoon for the last ten years.
Jamie now lives in the Complex Needs Wing of the Lighthouse and has her own apartment with a bathroom and shower. “They’re treating me really well,” says Jamie, “they look after my meds. I’m schizo effective bi-polar, so I’m on medication for my mind and I’m on methadone for treating my drug habit.”
Although Jamie loved to travel, it was in San Diego that she began to use heroin. Her addiction quickly spiraled into a $1000 a day drug habit, “It was hard for me coming up with that money every day,” she recalls.
Eventually she discovered the wonders of methadone and it’s kept her off heroin for thirteen years. Unfortunately, her addiction was much harder to beat, “I knew what it was like to kick the heroin habit, but oftentimes you replace one habit with another habit.” Jamie replaced heroin with crystal methamphetamine and cocaine, and her addiction persisted until she found The Lighthouse.
Jamie is proud to say that since she’s been living at The Lighthouse she has been clean of all substances. It’s been seven months, and she describes her sobriety as a relief. “Things are more in perspective now,” says Jamie, “I wake up in the morning and I don’t have to worry about how I’m going to get my drugs.”
Looking back, Jamie credits The Lighthouse as the reason she’s clean now, “I think that when I started being here it rubbed off on me, the attitude about not using drugs anymore.”
Her life has changed a lot since moving into her own apartment. She can come and go as she pleases, spend time with her friends and attend Recovery Group, where she talks about her struggle with addiction, “Thirty nine years I had a needle in my arm. Thirty nine years. So I’m proud of myself for not doing that anymore.”
–Written by Paige Goodman
Jaime spoke at least 3 languages, was a musician and a hair dresser at one time. Among other traditional hymns at her funeral, the Recessional was Thank You for the Music by ABBA. Jaime had such a positive personality and greeted everyone with a smile and a chat. She made everyone feel good ‘down to the tips of their toes’. She will be missed.
The Coldest Night of the Year is this Saturday, February 20th, starting at 4pm at Station 20 W. Walk with us for 2, 5 or 10km and warm up with a chili meal at the Lighthouse to celebrate your success. The City of Saskatoon will be providing bus service back to Station 20 W, where there is ample free parking.
Please donate towards the Coldest Night of the Year! If you are looking for a team to give to may be suggest Team Lighthouse, comprised of staff, friends and family, or Bridge Walkers with staff from the Bridge. All donations are split between the Lighthouse and The Bridge Fellowship Centre.
Federated Co-operative for being a Supporting Sponsor of the event as well.
We are still looking for more people to walk with us or volunteer for the event on Feb. 20th. Registration starts at Station 20 W at 4:00pm.
If you would like to volunteer please email [email protected].
Thank you for your support! And remember, it’s cold out here!
People who are homeless, intoxicated or otherwise need a safe place to stay can now only access the centre from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Lighthouse communications director DeeAnn Mercier said “it’s scary to contemplate” what the city’s most vulnerable people will do during the day, especially in current temperatures, and she fears the number of downtown disturbances will rise if people who need to sleep off a rough night have nowhere to go.
Mercier said funding challenges started in November, when the provincial social services ministry, one of the organization’s biggest backers, gave notice it will apply stricter qualifications in deciding who is eligible for funding.
Under its contract with the Lighthouse, the ministry gives the organization an emergency shelter per diem for people who use the shelter. Mercier said the organization was told in November that funding will only be available for people who meet the government’s definition of “homeless.”
“It may be that their ex-partner is there, it may be that there’s 20 people there, it may be that they’re not allowed to stay there when they’re intoxicated, it may be that they don’t feel safe there. That, to us, fits the Lighthouse’s definition of homelessness,” Mercier said.
The provincial government’s direction was that people who, for example, are collecting pension cheques or have a source of income are expected to pay to stay at the Lighthouse, Mercier said.
That never happens, because most people showing up at the Lighthouse can’t afford anything, Mercier said. Instead of turning people away, the organization has housed and fed them, albeit with less funding. Mercier estimates that between 40 and 50 per cent of people arriving at the centre are now coming with no funding.
The practice has left the centre in a “very concerning” financial situation, forcing managers to make decisions about cuts. First on the chopping block was 24-hour programming, which started at the centre’s stabilization unit almost a year ago.
“This is a big setback for the city,” said police Chief Clive Weighill. “The Lighthouse is predominantly the main place for people to go who need assistance, and without this open during the daytime, it’s going to leave a big gap of service here in the city.”
A spokesperson for the social services ministry said the province is in the process of providing an additional $150,000 to the Lighthouse within its current contract to help it provide emergency shelter while the health, social services and corrections ministries examine a longer-term, sustainable funding model for its operations.
Mercier said the money will help deal with the shortfall from 2015 but is not enough to keep the centre open 24 hours.
“We’re really hesitant to continue daytime operations if we don’t have sustainable funding for it,” she said.
In an emailed statement, social services spokesman Andrew Dinsmore said eligibility for emergency shelter per diems is based on assessing people’s income and assets from all sources, and their needs.
“If a person’s resources are insufficient to meet their daily living needs for basic items such as food, clothing, or shelter, they may be eligible,” he said.
His statement did not indicate how the criteria for an emergency shelter per diem changed in November.