Morningstar Mission to open warming centre on Monday

Morningstar Mission, located at 58 Water St. W in Napanee.

Adam Prudhomme

Morningstar Mission’s newly renovated warming centre will officially open its doors for the season on Dec. 19.

Starting on that day, doors at 58 Water St. W in Napanee will be open nightly from 8:30 p.m. until 7:30 a.m., seven days a week.

For those in the community who have been living rough on the street through the month of November and December, the opening is welcome news.

“It’s been cold, boring and difficult, but positive looking forward to being (at the warming centre),” said one individual who has been living in a tent. “It’s very positive anticipation.”

Morningstar Mission executive director Kevin Alkenbrack said the centre is more than just a place to get in from the cold on a given night. For some, it’s an opportunity to get out of a vicious cycle.

“People can’t get a job, they can’t get an apartment, no one can catch up with them. I hear repeatedly that people try to stay with their stuff but you can’t stay with your stuff 24 hours a day. Almost everybody on the street, every month, has quite a bit of stuff stolen from them,” said Alkenbrack. “Our hope with the warming centre is we can get people stabilized so they don’t have to worry about all their stuff being stolen. They don’t have to worry about whether their stuff is all going to be wet. They can just have one thing in their life stabilized, which is their most important thing in their life, having a place where they’re safe. We’ll see people’s mental health improve, we’ll see people start to connect with services, it’ll be easier for people.”

Though there are many ways to define homelessness, for Alkenbrack it comes down to one simple criteria.

“If you’re not assured that (items) are going to be there when you get home, that means you’re homeless,” said Alkenbrack. “If you aren’t in control of who comes and goes to your home, you’re not in control of whether the door is locked and you know that no one is going to go in and take your stuff, that’s why it’s so important that people that are homeless have to take the things that matter with them everywhere they go. That’s why we see people pushing carts.”

This will mark the second year the warming centre will be housed at the Mission, though this year it has moved from downstairs to the back of the building in a space that was recently vacated by the previous tenant. Renovations were done to the space, which can fit up to 15 people looking for a place to rest for the night, along with 10 staff. Each visitor is given their own personal space within the room, a bed and an outlet to charge their phone.

“Our goal is to use volunteers to help get the doors open earlier, say at 6 p.m. to bridge that gap from 6-8:30 p.m. when staff starts,” said Alkenbrack. “Also in the morning, we no longer have staff coverage at 7:30 a.m. If we could go from 7:30 to 9 a.m., then staff would be in. So if people want to help, that’s the way we can use volunteers with what we call gap programming.”

Anyone interested in helping can contact the Mission at 613-354-6355.

The newly re-done space was made possible by hundreds of donated hours from members of Greater Napanee Emergency Services’ fire department.

“(GNES interim deputy fire chief) Kevin Duncan reached out to me and said he heard my plea at council for someone to help,” said Alkenbrack. “He called me and said he was talking to chief Bill Hammond and said they wanted me to know that although they didn’t have the $50,000 that I was asking for for renovations, they had people that were willing to help, they had tradespeople and they would do whatever they could and they’ve been true to their word and they’ve spent many a night, many a weekend doing carpentry and framing and dry walling and painting and doing the plumbing and the washrooms for me and they’ve just been incredible.”

Alkenbrack noted firefighter Richard Punchard in particular had put in over 100 volunteer hours to help get the shelter ready.

The shelter will be open nightly through March 31.

error: Content is protected !!