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Top 5 tips on helping Panhandlers in Saskatoon

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How should people handle panhandling in Saskatoon? The issue has come to the forefront in the media in the past couple of weeks, with many people weighing in. A 2011 article in the Atlantic stated:

I’m certain that there are some cases where donations to an especially needy beggar are justified. But the ultimate danger in panhandling is that we don’t give to every beggar. There’s not enough change in our purses. We choose to donate money based on the level of perceived need. Beggars known this, so there is an incentive on their part to exaggerate their need, by either lying about their circumstances or letting their appearance visibly deteriorate rather than seek help.

If we drop change in a beggar’s hand without donating to a charity, we’re acting to relieve our guilt rather than underlying crisis of poverty. The same calculus applies to the beggar who relies on panhandling for a booze hit. In short, both sides fail each other by being lured into fleeting sense of relief rather than a lasting solution to the structural problem of homelessness.

Here are a few suggestions for a response the next time a panhandler asks you for money:

1. Acknowledge and Engage

  • Smile and actually say hello. Go out of your way to approach rather than avoid panhandlers.
  • Engage the person by starting a conversation. Take time to listen.

2. Don’t give money

  • Ask what their greatest need is. In most cases, meeting the immediate need of food or clothing is best.
  • Offer an alternative. Socks, underwear, toiletry items including toothbrushes and toothpaste, bottled water, granola bars or gift certificates for food can help address immediate needs.

3. Invite BhcmBegCcAAxpIX

  • If you want to help a panhandler or homeless person get back on their feet, you can point them to the Lighthouse or other service agency aimed at lifting people out of poverty. Since 1997 we have provided long-term housing for those who have experienced homelessness in Saskatoon.
  • If they are in immediate distress you can call the Lighthouse Mobile Outreach at 306-653-0538. They can transport them to a safe space.

4. Donate 

  • Many organizations are working together to end homelessness in Saskatoon including the Lighthouse, the Friendship Inn, the Bridge, Salvation Army, and the Saskatoon Indian and Metis Friendship Centre and many more. These organizations are able to increase their levels of support and programming through your donations of money and goods. To donate to the Lighthouse click here.

5. Volunteer

  • If you volunteer, not only do you give back to the community and help those in need but by sharing your experience you can help eliminate misconceptions and stereotypes. Gather a group of friends and start a clothing or non-perishable food drive, host a fundraising event, or volunteer at the Lighthouse Cameco Community Kitchen or other local organizations.

In Orlando, Florida, the Central Florida Regional Commission took another approach to panhandling. They asked people who where panhandling what the people who passed them everyday might not know about them. The end result was a video that is truly eye-opening.

If you have a story of helping a panhandler in a non-traditional way, please let us know in the comments!

Cameco Community Kitchen Video

Cameco Community Kitchen has now been open for one month. It provides meals to the wider community twice a week. This video was filmed on the Kitchen’s opening day and highlights the need for s supper program and life skills classes that it will provide.

Cameco and The Lighthouse partnered together to provide a new kitchen to feed some of Saskatoon’s most vulnerable citizens. The Cameco Community Kitchen will open on Monday and Friday evenings.

“This kitchen will help provide an evening meal to those who are experiencing homelessness or limited resources and hopefully introduce them to our services,” said Don Windels, executive director of the Lighthouse.

“By inviting people in for a warm meal we will be able to get to know them and offer supports, before housing is lost. In addition, the kitchen will be used to teach cooking classes and life skills to community members to increase their self-sufficiency and independence.”

We are seeking volunteers on Mondays and Fridays from 5:00pm to 7:00pm to help prepare and serve the meals. Please email to help today.

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We also appreciate donations of food including soup ingredients like carrots, celery, potatoes, soup base, milk, chicken or beef meet, barley, sausage, pasta as well as monetary donations to ensure the continued services provided. You can donate at

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

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!

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.



Community Initiatives Funds




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.


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.




Vivian Whitecalf, General Manager

BATC Community Development Corporation