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.
An innovative wellness center at The Lighthouse Supported Living (Lighthouse) officially opened today in Saskatoon. The shelter will provide an alternative for manageably intoxicated individuals who are unable to access other shelter services.Part of the funding is also being used to renovate 59 existing units in the Dubé Lighthouse that provides housing for close to 70 individuals. The Lighthouse Supported Living Inc. operates the Dubé Lighthouse facility.
The total cost of this project is $4 million. Funding of $1.5 million from the government was provided by the Ministry of Health ($1 million), the Ministry of Justice ($250,000), and the Ministry of Social Services through the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation ($250,000). The City of Saskatoon contributed $126,000 toward the project and additional funding was provided through the Homelessness Partnering Strategy and other fundraising.
“Our government is proud to work with Lighthouse to help vulnerable citizens in this community have improved access to a safe place to live with supports in place if required,” Social Services Minister and Minister responsible for Saskatchewan Housing Corporation Donna Harpauer said. “This aligns with a number of priorities outlined in our Provincial Housing Strategy, which includes supporting individuals and families in greatest housing need. These two initiatives are examples of that vision in action.”
“We are pleased to see the completion of the Lighthouse Stabilization and Wellness Centre project in Saskatoon,” Health Minister Dustin Duncan said. “We are proud to support our community partners like Lighthouse, who are reaching out into communities to help people improve and maintain their health and wellbeing. This project also supports the recommendations in the Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan, specifically ensuring that individuals with addictions issues have access to timely and appropriate care.”
“Our ministry is proud to partner in upgrading this valuable community facility,” Corrections and Policing Minister Christine Tell said. “We know how important it is that places like the Dubé Lighthouse exist to provide shelter and housing for vulnerable individuals who require extra support.”
“We are grateful to the many community members who came together to volunteer and donate toward the ‘Up’ Capital Campaign, Les and Irene Dubé who led with an amazing gift of $1 million, and the Provincial Government for seeing the value in this project,” Lighthouse Executive Director Don Windels said. “We are thankful the expanded Stabilization Unit will be operational before this winter so we can continue to provide emergency shelter to those in need in our community.”
The project features a stabilization shelter with approximately 38 beds for individuals who are manageably intoxicated. The second floor provides programming and office space, and the third floor features a wellness center with exercise facilities and atrium.
Since November 2007, 167 affordable rental units have been completed by the province for those considered ‘hard to house’ and facing multiple challenges such as disabilities and addictions in Saskatoon. Including the Lighthouse, an additional 40 units are currently under construction.
The Lighthouse provides housing for approximately 230 individuals on any given day. It provides 126 permanent housing units and about 94 emergency shelter spaces for vulnerable individuals, including the working poor, people with physical or intellectual disabilities, and people with addictions.
As a non-profit organization, The Lighthouse relies on a team of dedicated volunteers to help with client programming, prepping food and serving meals. The task of recruiting people and organizing the program falls to Volunteer Coordinator Grace Rath.
Volunteer Coordinator Grace Rath
Originally from Ottawa, Rath started at The Lighthouse as a volunteer. She moved to Saskatoon after friends she met while travelling convinced her to give the prairie city a try. “I like that it’s a smaller city and I like the community feel of it,” says Rath, “It’s a pretty friendly city. I immediately met lots of people and just found a great community, it felt like home really fast.”
While studying Sociology at the U of S, Rath saw a poster on the bus advertising for volunteers. “I’d walk downtown to work every day and I’d walk past people panhandling and I didn’t have any money to give them. I didn’t know how to help, so I started volunteering at The Lighthouse,” recalls Rath.
She spent the winter helping prep and serve dinner once a week and then got a summer job in the kitchen. The best part for Rath was getting to know the clients, “You see the same people come through the serving line every evening, so they’d get to know me and I’d get to know them.”
As she neared the end of her degree, a position opened up and the Kitchen Manager encouraged her to apply for it. She’s now been the Volunteer Coordinator for a year and a half. “One thing I learned in school is how important people’s history is,” says Rath, “I learned that in Sociology and also in the history classes I took, that sometimes it can be generations of hurt that someone’s dealing with, not just their own. So it’s a pretty heavy burden to carry. It’s hard to let that go.”
The Lighthouse combats this cycle by organizing various programs to help clients socialize and heal. Rath relies on around fifty regular volunteers to help with meals and fun activities.
Monday evening is Games Night and Rath sets up a Wii in the dining room for clients to play. There are also donated board games and packs of cards. “One of the shelter clients taught me how to play Crib when I first started. That’s probably one of the most valuable skills I’ve learned here because it’s the best game and everyone loves playing it,” says Rath.
Grace & Will
Regular volunteer Will Pulyk’s favorite night is Coffee House on Fridays. “I usually help out serving coffee and dessert and I find it’s just very satisfying and fun,” says Pulyk, who started volunteering in April. “Last Friday we had Worms and Dirt, the chocolate pudding with gummi worms, and making people smile was very satisfying,” he says.
Coffee House also recruits volunteers to provide entertainment, encouraging folk singers or bands to share their music with clients. Sometimes Rath shows movies, and during the hockey season she always screens the play-offs.
Rath estimates that she works with over a hundred volunteers throughout the year, some are regulars like Pulyk, many come with church groups and a few are students who volunteer as a class requirement.
“I have lots of different reasons why I volunteer, I guess the simplest one is I’ve lived in a few major cities, but I’ve never really felt connected to them,” explains Pulyk, “Now I live on an acreage and I still have that disconnect. I thought that this was a good way to combat that, and I think it’s important to do something positive with the free time that you have.”
Apart from the fun activities, Rath schedules volunteers in the kitchens. There are two meal programs at The Lighthouse; one feeds only people living or staying here. Kitchen Manager Jan Thiessen relies on volunteers to help her prep and serve three meals, plus a snack to around 150 clients every day.
The Cameco Community Kitchen opened last December and is run solely by Rath and her team of volunteers. Operating on Monday and Friday evenings, this program is open to anyone in the community who needs a meal.
Cameco Community Kitchen Volunteers
Rath tries to schedule groups of volunteers to come in for the Community Kitchen. “Some groups do provide the food and come and cook it and that’s really great, it helps with our budget. But if there isn’t a group to provide the food or cook it, then I’ll just make it that day and have volunteers come in and serve it,” she says.
Some of the groups are from churches or community societies, and a few are corporate teams. Rath says it’s exciting to see different organizations in the city get involved, “Cameco and Bessborough employees come to volunteer. They have team days where a group of them will run a Bingo Night or work in the kitchen.”
According to Rath, the best part of her job is when volunteers approach her with their own unique ideas. Last winter, a church group wanted give the Community Kitchen clients a formal dining experience. “Normally it’s served cafeteria style, where everyone comes through and gets their own food,” says Rath, “but these ladies came in and decorated the room, they had someone playing some background music and they put down table cloths, flowers and place settings.”
The volunteers came out dressed like waiters and served the main course with a special dessert right at the table, refilling everyone’s coffee and water glasses throughout the meal. “It was just so beautiful and a special thing to do for us. The clients loved it and it was so busy that night, everyone came,” says Rath.
Volunteers providing music at Coffee House
The program is currently looking for volunteers with an artistic background for a weekly Art Group on Saturday afternoons. “That’s another good one to sit and chat with people. Usually we just sit and color and talk. We had a volunteer who came and did a couple classes of creative writing, so that was awesome,” says Rath. She adds that anyone who wants to come in and teach a few classes in drawing, painting, crafting or drama would be welcomed, “We’re always open to whatever people want to do.”
For Pulyk, it’s the community feeling that keeps him coming back to volunteer, “Even in the short time that I’ve been here, one of my favorite parts is seeing new people that have come to The Lighthouse make friends. Now they have people to fall back on and that’s a really wonderful thing to see.”
This week is National Volunteer Week and we would like to celebrate some of our amazing volunteers! Crib is a popular game during our weekly Games Night.
One of our awesome volunteers, Hannah, comes every week to play crib with whoever is up for the challenge!
Sarah comes once a week after work to help us serve the busy supper meal.
Bingo is always a huge hit!
Live music during coffee house is an amazing treat to sooth the soul and make the evening feel special.
Our Cameco Community Kitchen is run almost 100% by volunteers, who bring the food, prepare it, and serve it to the wider community on Mondays and Fridays from 5:30pm to 6:30pm. This is a great team build exercise and we hope to continue the program even in the summer months.
This lovely group of women put together dehydrated food packages for our Mobile Outreach to give out to people they encounter on the street. Just add water and you get a wholesome, healthy meal!
Thank you for sharing your amazing talent!
Sharing smiles and uplifting people!
Betty and Henriette volunteer with St. Anne’s Parish. Once a month they bring snacks and play BINGO, which is a huge hit with everyone! They also help bake cookies and help stuff envelopes. Wow!
Whitney is one of our lovely volunteers. She comes weekly to help out with our lunch meal!
To finish off National Volunteer Week, we would like to say a huge THANK YOU to all of our amazing volunteers!! All the work that volunteers do here (behind the scenes or otherwise), impacts every aspect of our client’s lives, and every part of our organization. Our volunteers go above and beyond, we could not do this without you!