Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com
Fort William Rotary's Solade Nicol tests out the first of 80 new mattresses the service club donated Wednesday to Shelter House.
Shelter House clients have new mattresses on which to lay their heads, thanks to a $20,000 donation from Fort William Rotary.
The south-side facility’s executive director, Patty Hajdu, on Wednesday said while the existing mattresses weren’t too old, they were much harder to clean and a lot less sanitary for their clientele.
“The problem is they were not well suited to a shelter environment,” Hajdu said.
“They’re very porous, they’re difficult to clean and they have a foam centre that is easily contaminated. We were really feeling that it wasn’t upholding our values that everyone has worth and dignity, to put them on a mattress that we couldn’t sanitize.”
Shelter House sleeps 62 men, women and youth nightly in its emergency centre program and 15 people in the Kwae Kii Win managed alcohol program.
Hajdu said the generous donation means the organization can spend more on day-to-day operations, in particular food for the homeless who use the shelter.
Fort William Rotary president Jodi Phillips said the club has been a strong supporter of Shelter House for years and buying 80 new mattresses was their way to foster dignity in some of the community’s most marginalized population.
“I don’t think there’s any better way to do that then supporting Shelter House and a warm bed for people to sleep in,” she said.
Hajdu later added Shelter House looking at revamping its first-come, first-served policy and plans to take a look at the possibility of reserving space for their most vulnerable homeless clientele – the young, the sick and the disabled – each night.