Home for the Holidays?

By: Joe Enberg
Published in the Lowertown Echo

The holiday season is just around the corner. The trees will be going up, the holly will be hung and carols will be sung. Many of us will be spending our Christmas with families and loved ones around a fire place and a table full of food. For others, the holiday season will be glum and they will be in a world of darkness. Many of Ottawa’s homeless individuals will spend not only Christmas, but the entire winter, hungry, cold and alone.

For many of Ottawa’s homeless, Shepherds of Good Hope (SGH) will be their only home this Christmas. Staff, volunteers and community partners work hard year-round to make the shelter environment and supportive housing residences a warm and inviting beacon of hope. They provide food, clothing, shelter, counselling and access to treatment for individuals living with mental health challenges, addictions and trauma. This compassion is essential during the cold winter nights and lonely holiday season.

The Shepherds team is skilled at creating a welcoming environment for all who are in need. The generosity of spirit that exists in all of their programs and services across the city demonstrates the caring way in which they assist many of Ottawa’s most vulnerable people.

I remember it well. I have been on the receiving end of such unconditional support from other Ottawa agencies similar to Shepherds of Good Hope. For many years, my drug and alcohol addictions controlled every aspect of my life. Today, I am happy, healthy and will be surrounded by the warmth of family and loved ones at Christmas.

I can tell you that we can’t do it alone. It takes a community to create a compassionate environment. What I love about Shepherds of Good Hope is that a stay in the shelter is only a small part of a person’s journey. The majority of the individuals SGH houses each year are able to maintain their housing and break the cycle of homelessness. They have come a long way from their stays in the shelter and streets.

SGH continues to grow by creating more affordable housing options that are desperately needed in Ottawa.

Above all, they offer hope. Please consider becoming involved and helping them in their efforts to enhance our caring, compassionate community during the holidays and beyond. Give SGH a call at 613-789-8210 or visit our website to see how you can help change a life.