Community members, supporters, staff and friends attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday, December 10, officially commemorating the opening of Huntsville’s first men’s shelter. Staff said they’ve had three men stay in the shelter since it opened on Monday.
Heather Berg, Founder and President of The Table Soup Kitchen Foundation, stood by the front door of the shelter and thanked everyone for their part in supporting its opening.
The shelter has received a building permit for eight out of the 16 bunk-style beds it built. Berg told those present that getting a green light to open the shelter “has been a long time in coming.” She said that while The Table was hoping to persue more beds, it is thankful for the eight. “We are grateful for eight beds and we are thankful that we can even serve one person here. Even one life is enough for us to do what we’re doing.”
She said guests will be able to stay at the shelter for 14 days in a row, up to 28 days in a calendar year. Berg told those present there are always exceptions. She said if someone requires a bed and one is available they can stay and work towards accessing housing and other community supports. They’ll be provided with a warm and comfortable bed, shower and laundry facilities as well as night programming and three meals per day while trained staff and volunteers work on connecting them with resources in the community.
We can’t do this alone. We need everybody. We need all the service providers and community churches and so on, to actually come along side these men and help make a difference in their lives and help them pursue hope and healing and housing.
She reminded those present that the shelter needs volunteers to help with shelter chores and sit on the fundraising committee.
The Table, a non-denominational Christian organization, also runs a host of other ministries such as a food bank, soup and community kitchen, and an exchange store.
Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Tony Clement attended the ribbon-cutting. “I’ll be honest with you. I’m not bearing a cheque but I’m a member of this community. I support this with my heart and soul as well and this is a day where we can say thank you to everyone who has been involved with this and thank God that this is now part of our social fabric here in Huntsville.”
Clement said he’s heard from people for the past 11 years that Huntsville needs a men’s shelter. “There’s a need, we know that. And the need is a physical need but it’s also an emotional and spiritual need and the great thing about this place is that they aspire to have all of those needs met for people in our community. Broken people perhaps, but we we’re all broken. Perhaps some a little more than others because of circumstances or fate and we are here as members of the community to support them.”
Berg introduced shelter staff and members of the board of The Table Soup Kitchen Foundation. She thanked members of the shelter’s steering committee, countless volunteers and acknowledged the gold, silver and bronze sponsors.
Berg also mentioned Paul Fenc, a homeless man who died when the van he used as shelter caught fire. He approached the shelter shortly before that fateful night, asking if they were open and was told they had not yet received permission to open. Berg said one of the shelter beds has been named after him.
Find out more about the shelter at The Table Soup Kitchen Foundation’s website here. You can also view a quick impromptu tour of the interior of the shelter as well as the ribbon-cutting ceremony in the videos below.
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