Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
Members of Samaritan House Ministries provided the Sun with an update on their Safe and Warm shelter Monday afternoon, revealing that COVID-19 health regulations forced them to reduce their beds from 25 to 13 once the pandemic started ramping up.
Because of this, executive director Barbara McNish said the non-profit is trying to raise enough money to complete another round of renovations and expand their sleeping area for Brandon’s less fortunate.
"The shelter, at this point, needs extra space, extra rooms," she said. "So we’re going to try and get two more sleeping areas with the air quality and with the heat and all the things that we need."
McNish estimates that these renovations will cost around $900,000, although Samaritan House has already raised one-third of that amount since the summer.
In the meantime, the executive director revealed that her staff is looking to get the shelter back up to 22 beds within the next couple weeks through reorganizing the layout of their existing space.
"It’s not the best solution, but it’s a better solution than having people out in the cold," she said.
Otherwise, McNish used this media scrum on Monday to illustrate just how many people actually used their Safe and Warm shelter throughout the last 11 months, since the non-profit finally managed to secure enough funding to run the space year-round.
Just like in previous years, the shelter was operational from Nov. 1 to March 31 and hosted 162 clients during that time in 2019-20.
However — thanks to a combination of funds from the province, the city and the Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation — Samaritan House will be able to keep their shelter doors open continuously until Oct. 31, having accommodated 170 people as of late September.
See ‘Cost’ — Page A2
Even though getting to operate throughout the spring, summer and fall really benefitted Brandon’s most vulnerable citizens, McNish admitted that the increasingly cramped conditions and extra health protocols due to COVID-19 did take some getting used to.
Moving into the winter, McNish said the shelter will remain open and will keep these precautions in place, which includes vigorous hand-washing requirements, temperature checks, eating in shifts and asking clients to wear masks if they cannot maintain that designated two-metre cushion.
And while the cost to expand their shelter is a tall order, McNish is confident that Samaritan House’s various partners and donors will come through in the end, especially since the United Way recently helped them install a new bathroom through the federal government’s Emergency Community Support Fund.
"From the corporate to the business to the public and to the private donors, thank you from the bottom of my heart because you’re helping those people find a safe place," she said.
For more information on Samaritan House Ministries and their services, visit samaritanhouse.net.
» Twitter: @KyleDarbyson
As we navigate through unprecedented times, our journalists are working harder than ever to bring you the latest local updates to keep you safe and informed.
Now, more than ever, we need your support.
Starting at $4.99/month you can access your Brandon Sun online and full access to all content as it appears on our website.Subscribe Now
or call circulation directly at (204) 727-0527.
Your pledge helps to ensure we provide the news that matters most to your community!