Charity Spotlight: This post was provided by Nada Thomson, Communications and Development for Sanctuary, as part of our ongoing charity spotlight series.
For most people on the street, their experiences of community have been dysfunctional at best. Rather than simply duplicating social services, Sanctuary provides a unique, healthy community – a safe place. A sanctuary. We welcome individuals from all walks of life, and we strive to establish an inclusive and healthy community for people who, for the most part, have known only rejection and abuse.
We do things differently.
My friends Joe and Kelly are great examples of the positive impact that Sanctuary’s relational-style of care has on people. We first met them while doing street outreach. They were barely out of their teens, living on the street, and suffering from addiction issues and the effects of generational poverty – a cycle that is incredibly hard to break.
After chatting with us on the street a number of times, they felt safe enough to come to our meal drop-in. After a few visits, they felt comfortable enough to ask for some help with simple things like getting extra food and sleeping bags. Then one day, they took a huge leap of faith and asked us to help them find housing. We did, and we also connected them with our health clinic, saw them start on their journey towards sobriety, and set them up to volunteer in our kitchen. Slowly, through these things, Joe and Kelly built up a sense of belonging and dignity.
Joe and Kelly changed their lives.
Last time I saw them, they both looked amazing and were positively bursting to share all of their plans with me; including Joe’s goal to work at our social purpose bike shop and Kelly’s excitement about reconnecting with her mom after being estranged for over five years.
We view simple gestures like giving life-enhancing supplies, facilitating art and drama activities, hosting free concerts and serving hearty family-style meals as fresh opportunities to inspire hope for a brighter tomorrow. We work to serve a downtown Toronto neighbourhood, one plagued with homelessness, drugs, prostitution, unemployment and AIDS. We work to offer dignity, support and direction to people who want to reclaim healthy, meaningful lives. Through drop-ins, street outreach and one-to-one relationships, we offer food, clothing and basic health care. Above all, we provide something seemingly simple: friendship to those who have experienced hardship and isolation.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.
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