Nishnawbe Aski Nation’s BBQ and Yard Sale in support of Shelter House Thunder Bay’s SOS program was a success with about $19,440 raised and an additional $15,000 in matching donations.
“It was a little over $34,000 — that was after NAN’s matching $10,000 (donation),” says Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, adding that the Joseph Esquega Health Centre - Family Medicine Clinic also made a $5,000 matching donation. “There was also, I understand, some other individual donations that were made online on that day.”
Gary Mack, executive director of Shelter House Thunder Bay, says the SOS (Street Outreach Services) fundraising campaign was at about $140,000 as of June 27 after being at about $95,000 before the NAN fundraiser.
“We did receive a $10,000 cheque in the mail from someone in B.C. who wanted to remain anonymous,” Mack says. “And other monies have been flowing in as well. So it really has rejuvenated our fundraising efforts, for sure. Our goal is to raise $200,000, so we are almost there. We are super grateful to NAN for putting on that barbecue, because not only did they host the event and pay for all of the food and everything, but they did match the first $10,000 in donations. It was very generous of them and it is great to have their support.”
Mack plans to speak with the board of Shelter House Thunder Bay during the last week of June about when to re-start the SOS program.
“It is looking really good, so we are really optimistic that we will be starting the program soon,” Mack says. “An announcement will be made about that shortly.”
Mack says the SOS fundraising campaign also includes the purchase of a new van for the program.
“We need a new van,” Mack says. “Our van is on its last legs, so it is time for a new van and some upgrades to the program.”
Mack says the SOS program provides support to homeless people who are in crisis in the community. The program has operated for about five years, but was suspended for the summer.
“So if someone is intoxicated, the SOS team will be onsite to help them out and take them to wherever is appropriate for them,” Mack says. “It saves ambulance services, it saves police services, it saves hospital services and it is also a very respectful way to provide service to this population because our SOS team has built relationships with street-involved people.”
Mack says the SOS team also visits encampment areas and areas where homeless people tend to congregate in the community.
“We provide service there — we engage people and hopefully we bring them back to the Shelter,” Mack says. “That’s the goal, to get them sheltered, safe, fed, and even hopefully eventually housed.”
The NAN fundraiser included the sale of bannock burgers, bannock dogs, hotdogs and drinks as well as games and prizes, face painting, live music and a silent auction.
“We just want to give back to the community of Thunder Bay to support the Thunder Bay Shelter House fundraising efforts to try to revive the street outreach program,” Fiddler says. “We think it is very worthwhile and can be a lifesaving program, so we want to do our part to ensure that they reach their goal. It’s also a great opportunity for the community to come together and spend a few hours here and enjoy a bannock burger and maybe do some visiting on the side.”
Shelter House Thunder Bay previously received $10,000 donations from a former homeless person who wished to remain anonymous, an anonymous donor from an agency in Toronto, the community of Eabametoong, Matawa First Nations, Goldcorp and the Knutson family.
“The generous donation that this individual made is just inspiring,” Fiddler says about the former homeless person. “It’s amazing the action that he took, and that should inspire all of us to take action as well.”
Fiddler gave a shout out to the former homeless person for making the $10,000 donation.
“Meegwetch for your generous act and we hope that it inspires others to consider making a donation in supporting this very important program,” Fiddler says, noting that he learned the former homeless person was a client of Shelter House Thunder Bay. “He considers the staff here and others that are with him as his family. That is how we should treat our families, is with generosity and kindness, and he showed that in a very humble way.”