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THUNDER BAY -- Jason Rasevych received a close-up look at the inner workings of Shelter House Thursday.
One of about a dozen people from Leadership Thunder Bay’s current class, Rasevych toured the facility Thursday morning and learned of its programs and services.
“It’s really heartening to see the effects it has on the people and just being a lifeline of support there for the community people that are facing these challenges in their life when they don’t have a direction or don’t have (any) other place to go,” he said.
“This is a place that could support them in some capacity and turn their life around if they fall.”
Leadership Thunder Bay is a skills development program. One day each month, the current class has a learning day in the community that focuses on different community issues.
They toured the Shelter House and then went onto the Regional Food Distribution Association Thursday afternoon to learn about homelessness and poverty in the city.
Rasevych said he was impressed with the structure in place for programming, fundraising and volunteer coordination at Shelter House and the rules they have for conflict resolution and dealing with specific client issues.
“It’s impressive to me how they have everything in a coordinated fashion from their assessments right down to referral of other programs and services for people that need them,” he said.
Shelter House executive director Patty Hajdu led the morning’s tour and said there is a real benefit to having groups like Leadership Thunder Bay come to see how the shelter works.
“It really helps us achieve our goal of explaining what the roots of poverty are and helping the community understand that living in poverty isn’t a personal choice,” she said.
A common myth surrounding homelessness is that people choose to live that way,” Hajdu said.
“I think when people don’t know a lot about why people end up living in poverty, there’s a sense that people just aren’t trying hard enough; that they’re lazy. That if they only tried harder, then this wouldn’t happen,” she said.
Often times people are born into circumstances that make it difficult for them to learn how to survive and excel, she added, noting a big part of what Shelter House staff does is look for ways to work on the roots of poverty.
“How do we help our community as a whole move forward toward a healthier place?” she said.
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