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Shelter gets a name

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Viola’s Place Society to aid homeless in county

The new shelter in Pictou County has a name: Viola’s Place Society.

A committee has been working hard for the past year or so to find a location for a new shelter. First Baptist Church has put together a program to assist those who are in need. First Baptist Church is now open Wednesdays from 7 p.m. till Thursday at 7 a.m. They are providing a safe shelter with beds and meals to assist any adult in need of assistance in or passing through the Pictou County area.

Volunteers have stepped up to fill in the gap where needed. “We again are very thankful for First Baptist Church for planning and implementing this temporary shelter. They have been gracious to keep the temporary shelter open all summer long on Wednesday nights,” said Karen MacPhee, president of the shelter board, in a press release.

“Through this process we have been learning quite a bit. We learned that we cannot do anything as far as moving forward until we become a board. So we became a board so that we could move forward in the process of becoming a fulltime shelter.”

The board agreed on the name for the new full time shelter thinking it fitting to honour Viola Desmond who stood up against social injustice. “As a grave social injustice was done to Viola in our community, we felt it would be fitting to honour Viola by naming our society which will take care of other injustices in our community such as; homelessness, people going hungry and lack of affordable housing for all. It will take support from everyone in Pictou County to ensure we honour her memory well.”

With the name that was decided, they were able to complete all the paperwork needed to become a non-profit society and are now just waiting for charitable status; the earliest this may be completed is December 17. Until this occurs, members are only able to collect donations from individuals or businesses that do not require a receipt.

As well, they have created a vision statement: “That everyone in our community has a safe place to live and all their needs are met,” as well as a mission statement: “To offer: empowering opportunities, hope, security, housing, meals and supportive services in a safe environment.”

The shelter board has also created core values:

• Integrity. We are mission driven, accountable, consistent and transparent.

• Innovation. We will continually develop new strategies and creative solutions to improve our services and fulfill our mission.

• Workplace. We deeply value our volunteers/employees and are committed to maintaining healthy workplace.

• Organizational strength. We are a stable, sustainable, cost-effective, pragmatic and financially well managed organization.

• Individualism. We believe that everyone has an individualized optimal level of capacity. As such we ensure that the people we serve will have what is needed to build their capacity to whatever their optimal level is; no person is the same and therefore goals are individualized and not generalized.

• Diversity. We embrace and strive to be inclusive and accepting of everyone that all people have worth and deserve respect, dignity and have the right to safe shelter, nutritious food and clothing.

• Love/Compassion. We strive for excellence, demonstrate unconditional love through a gentle, kind and friendly manner to inspire, encourage and give hope to those we serve.

• Perspective. We seek out and apply the perspective of those we serve in recognition that their views are integral to assessing and developing equity in policies, practices, programs and services.

• Agenda. We maintain the belief that we are here to serve those in need and demonstrate respect in regards to their wishes, above and beyond all other agendas.

• Partnerships. When possible and appropriate, we partner with the community and/or other organizations/agencies to enhance programs and services.

The board has decided to purchase property as the best option for the shelter and its future.”

Board members approached the owners of the old Life Center Church in New Glasgow, where the previous shelter was located, and had a walkthrough of the building with various inspectors who gave of their time to look at the building and give an assessment of what will be needed to make it safe, functional and a place to provide assistance.

“Our short-term goal is to feed and provide shelter to ones in need. Our long-term goal is to have people that are working side by side with the person in need and connecting them with services that will assist them to self-sustainability. As well provide housing to ones in need who cannot afford low rent and need a safe space to give them time to get back on their feet. There is a need here in the community and we, as Pictou County citizens, can assist with this need.”

The Pentecostal Church of Canada, who are the current owners of the building, has offered the facility for $60,000 with a $5,000 deposit. The deposit is due September 30, upon acceptance of offer and the $60,000 is due April 30.

“We are very grateful to the Pentecostal Church of Canada for this. They have given a very fair price on the property knowing full well that the premises will be used for community functions. There are a few repairs that will need to be done once purchased to make the building safe and functional. We have decided as well that New Glasgow would be a great area for the shelter taking in consideration that it is for all in Pictou County and those passing through on the 104 highway.”

Volunteers have put countless hours into building this shelter upon a firm foundation that will be able to stand the test of time.

“Having a shelter open in Pictou County is not just a committee’s or volunteers responsibility but it is all of our responsibility here in Pictou County. In order to make this happen and be successful everyone in Pictou County needs to grasp this shelter like their own. This means giving of your time, abilities and as well finances. Working together, building a stronger community for this present time and for the future of Pictou County. We all share a responsibility in this new shelter or, shall we say, Viola’s Place Society.”

Board members are asking people to now step up and support this shelter with skills, finances and abilities to make it a reality. “Without all of the citizens of Pictou County on board we cannot move forward. So please consider what you are able to give whether it be finances, time or skills. This community has the biggest heart as it has been shown over and over again when someone is in need. So please consider this and the ones that this shelter will be serving in our community and as well travelling through.”

People wishing to make donations may do so at any Scotia Bank. It can be deposited into the Viola’s Place Society bank account. There is also a Go Fund Me campaign that can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/ViolasPlaceSociety.

Questions can be directed to: violasplacesociety@gmail.com.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/violasplacesociety/

Website: www.violasplacesociety.com

Organizers are encouraging past Life Shelter volunteers and others who would like to volunteer to contact them once the shelter is up and running.

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