Please help bring them in from the cold!
My name is Steve MacIntosh and I’ve been an employee of Shepherds of Good Hope since 1998. I’ve seen a lot of changes from my first days on the job till now, but two things have remained constant – winter’s brutal cold and the need for your support through this tough season. This is the time when you can make a real difference in the lives of Ottawa’s most vulnerable men and women.
I remember an incident from my early days as a front-line worker. Back then, the shelter and soup kitchen were both housed in the building on Murray Street – it was cramped and tight, filled with people trying to escape winter’s harsh grip. Suddenly, the doors swung open and in walked one of our regular clients carrying another man on his back. The man was unresponsive and frost-bite was beginning to set in on his hands and feet. His friend had found him unconscious in a snow bank. Thankfully, we were able to provide the care this man needed to bring him back to health; a warm place to stay, dry clothes to wear and a nutritious meal. When I asked the man why he brought his friend to Shepherds of Good Hope he told me this is where he knew he’d be safe. This is where he knew he could find help. Generous supporters like you saved this man’s life.
Fast forward eighteen years and a lot has changed. The shelter is now housed in a building on King Edward and has more than tripled in size. We now have eight locations throughout the city and over 1600 people use our services every day. We’re Ottawa’s largest charity for the homeless and vulnerably housed, and the only one to provide comprehensive, around-the-clock service to both women and men. The need is greater than ever. Please consider making a gift today to save lives in this cold, brutal weather!
Just last week, I was reminded of how much your help is needed. What started out as a regular morning quickly changed when I noticed a man sleeping in our parking lot, completely covered in snow. It was “Claude”, a long-time soup kitchen client and a well-known figure on Ottawa’s downtown streets. (We’ve changed Claude’s name for confidentiality reasons.) He’s the guy you always see working to earn a few extra dollars by collecting empty cans and beer bottles. A proud man. From time-to-time, we would allow him to sleep on our property because we knew that’s where he felt safe. In my entire time at Shepherds I was never able to convince Claude to come inside, even on the coldest of days. He was too worried something might happen to the few possessions he owned.
This time was different – he woke up sick and knew he needed help.
I assured Claude if he came inside we would keep his things safe. I locked up his bicycle and shopping cart, stored his bags in our storage room and allowed him to stay on bed rest so he could get back on his feet.
After years on the street taking their toll on him both physically and emotionally, Claude needed help. He needed someone to trust. Thanks to your support Claude is finally getting the warmth, care, and rest he needs. Thanks to you, he’s learning to trust and to hope.
Winter is here and Ottawa has already had multiple extreme cold weather warnings and frostbite advisories. By choosing to renew your support for Shepherds of Good Hope by making a donation today, you’ll be providing Claude, and so many others like him, with safety and warmth this winter – we can’t do it without you!
With respect and appreciation,
Senior Assistant Manager