2013-10-16 at NOON
Maj. Morris Vincent (left) and Maj. Rob Kerr of the Salvation Army help kick off a 25th anniversary celebration Wednesday at the organization's Pearl Street Habitat Program.
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Without the Salvation Army’s Habitat Program, some of Thunder Bay’s most vulnerable residents might have fallen through the cracks.
On Wednesday staff and residents at the 34-bed Pearl Street facility celebrated the program’s 25th anniversary.
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Maj. Robert Kerr said the idea behind the project was to help people who might need a little day-to-day support, live independently, a sense of freedom for those who couldn’t quite do it on their own. This philosophy lives on today, a quarter of a century later.
“Twenty-five years in a program like this is fantastic,” Kerr said. “To think that we can have funding from the municipal government and a facility provided to us to run the program and to allow us to do this for 25 years is really a milestone.
“You can imagine there are a number of people who have been helped and influenced along the way in those 25 years.”
The program was initially begun in 1988, a partnership between the Salvation Army and the Thunder Bay Non-Profit Housing Corporation, which has since been renamed the Thunder Bay District Social Services Administration Board.
Each unit includes a single bedroom, a kitchen, bathroom and storage room. The building, which is fully accessible, also includes a lounge and laundry room for use by all tenants.
Kerr said the staff and residents make it such a great place.
“It’s a loving environment. Everyone is welcome. They feel loved, they feel encouraged and they really do get the supports they need to make them feel valued as members of society, to be encouraged to step out and do whatever they can do and be as much as they can be.
“Before this program started these people might have been on the streets. They might have been looking for a place to live. This gives them a place of hope and dignity and encouragement.”
DSSAB chairman Bob Katajamaki said their continued support is a no-brainer.
“I believe that it’s an essential part of our community because people who require these types of services live in our community and we have to support them. That’s the reason why.”
He added DSSAB officials might consider expanding the program in the future if it’s determined the need is there.
“I guess it’s something when the need arises, we’ll have to deal with it,” he said.
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