REPORTING · 22nd December 2010
At the onset of winter two years ago Terrace and the City Council was embroiled in a stinging controversy. The business community and citizenry were growing increasingly concerned about the chronic alcoholics disturbing the good peace and order in the City. Others focused on those who would face the winter weather and the prospects of death from exposure.
Various shelter ideas were considered with former Councillor Marylin Davies taking the charge to find what was termed a ‘wet shelter’; a place where the drinking homeless could get out of the weather. Former RCMP Inspector D. Fenson, Captain Moulton (now Major) from the Salvation Army, Elleen Callanan President of Terrace Chapter BC Schizophrenia Society, Debbie Taphouse, Claudette Sandecki, Dan Sheridan from Muks-kum-ol housing, and even the Manager of Safeway all came together to address the issue.
Marylin Davies attempted to make the former Womens Resource center home (now Terrace Anti Poverty) available however the City did not have the resources to run it. The Salvation Army rejected being used as a ‘flop house’ and attempted to assist with finding alternative locations acknowledging the need. Friar Buchanan from Saint Matthew’s Anglican Church offered their vacant building but this too in the end was rejected. After the 2008 Municipal election the entire debacle seemed to fade from the news and then the Terrace District Community Services Society (TDCSS) with Casey Eys stepped up on their own and began operating the Homeless Outreach Program (HOPS) with the assistance of the Seventh Day Adventists who operated a weekend food kitchen.
Opening on December 22, 2008 the HOP began serving food and beverages 5 days a week. All the expenses were, and still are covered by donations from local business owners and involved citizens. This was to be a temporary service for the cold winter weather however by spring it became so popular and was having such a great impact on the downtown core, TDCSS decided to continue facilitating the operation.
By the early summer, before the enactment of the new RCMP downtown enforcement program, the impact of the compassionate program was having a demonstrable impact. Many business owners described the success of the homeless outreach program. Almost immediately they noticed a decrease in the drunken, belligerent behaviour of those on the streets. In September of 2009 volunteer Troy Waldron described why it was working.
“These guys come to the door drunk and angry and we invite them in for a cup of coffee and something to eat.” stated Waldron, “As soon as they have something to eat the anger is gone and they leave happy and we become their friends. Maybe they go out and drink in the afternoon but when they come back and we give them something to eat again the anger and violence disappears. A hungry man is an angry man.”
The HOP Day Centre is in the building previously known as the Carpenter’s Hall, now known as the All Nations Centre and is currently open Monday to Friday, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.
The goal of the program is to provide a warm, welcoming and safe community gathering place where individuals are provided with a nutritious meal and supports to access the requested and/or required resources for improved social and mental health. At present, there is no other such comprehensive service in Terrace. The All Nations Centre building location is conducive to counselling and referral services as well as its original purpose of a community drop in centre.
Since the opening of this facility in December of 2008, the numbers have grown to the point where it is now supporting an average of 60 participants each day. There are both regular and new faces, all genders and all ages, which have accessed this service and expressed their appreciation for the assistance they have received. The need has been demonstrated.
The service is all volunteer and Casey Eys estimates it only cost $1 per person per day to operate; an exceptional achievement.
As they pass their second year anniversary Casey Eys has come up with a new concept for funding. He has been receiving donations on a steady basis from various businesses and has decided to dedicate the funds directly to days of the week. January has been paid for and they are now working on filling the needs for February. Eys is making an appeal to everyone to help assist the Day center to meet the needs of the community. This could be the lowest cost service of it’s kind in North America. Another first for Terrace.
You can add to the support by contacting Casey Eys at 250-638-8117, and the TDCSS for more information.
The January donations funding calender, see larger size attached below
A Job Well Done
Comment by Colleen Austin on 23rd December 2010
Congratulations Casey on a job well done. Although I would prefer that this program didn't have to exist I am proud of the work you do for our friends in need. Keep up the good work and remember to take some down time for yourself over the holidays.