Truro homeless shelter sees increase of usage

Published on January 7, 2014
Tillie Armstrong, a co-ordinator with the Out of the Cold winter homeless shelter in Truro, is thrilled with the community support that continues into the new year. The shelter welcomes seven to nine clients a night. File photo

TRURO – A winter shelter has been busy providing help to the homeless and making plans for the shelter to have a more permanent future.

Tillie Armstrong, a program co-ordinator through First United Church, told the Truro Daily News on Tuesday that seven to nine clients have been using the shelter every night this winter. The seven-night-a-week make-shift shelter, located at First United Church and overseen by First United and Immanuel Baptist churches with community volunteers, opened in November and initially provided assistance to three clients a night. It will run until the end of March.

“The community and churches have been so generous … and we appreciate the support,” said Armstrong, adding recent assistance by organizations and individuals have helped provide some of the necessities at the shelter.

For example, donations of soups and fresh food came in during the holidays and on Christmas Day one family made their Christmas meal at the shelter and shared it with clients. In addition, the Masons offered chowder from its New Year’s Day levee and one community resident has offered to take clients to the mall in the morning when the shelter closes.

“It’s very difficult to put them out in the morning,” said Armstrong, but, she added, it’s necessary because volunteers can’t be there 24 hours and other programs take place at the church throughout the day. The shelter runs from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Regarding the shelter’s future, a meeting will be held on Friday to “explore ways to get a permanent facility,” confirmed Armstrong.

“We need a building with showers, and a washer and dryer. There are empty buildings in town … and we don’t want to put taxes up. If we had access to grants, the churches would volunteer to staff nights but we’d need to hire a co-ordinator for the day.”

Armstrong said it would also be beneficial to offer related services such as mental health programs and skills development courses through the Nova Scotia Community College.

Twitter: tdnMonique