Tag Archives: Welland

Emergency Shelter Pilot Program Comes To A Close

WELLANDThe seasonal emergency shelter pilot program has concluded.

The shelter (in the Welland Tennis Club building on Hooker Street) opened on February 2 and was operational on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. Overall, the shelter welcomed 22 individuals for 89 stays, averaging three per night. There were five beds available. The shelter’s pilot program concluded on March 26.

“We knew the need for this shelter existed, and to have 89 stays over the pilot project period confirmed that,” said Ward 6 Coun. Bonnie Fokkens, who, along with Ward 3 Coun. John Chiocchio, brought forward a notice of motion to implement the shelter. “This project wasn’t perfect, there were things we could anticipate and those we couldn’t, but our partner response was always exceptional. We must now take what the data shows us and continue the discussions and work with other levels of government to help those in our community who need it most.”

As part of the project, shelter staff screened and engaged visitors, assisting in appropriate diversion practices for those in need. Ward 3 Coun. Sharmila Setaram assisted the project through regular public engagement with local residents.

In addition to partnering with the Hope Centre, the City also worked alongside Beyond the Streets Welland, Holy Trinity Church, and the Niagara Regional Police. 

A report will come to Council in the coming weeks with more detailed data and a complete project review. The City contributed $9,000 for this initiative through the Corporate Continency Fund, amended on January 17, 2023, and, as part of the aforementioned report, will receive an update on any additional costs incurred. 

Learn more about the Hope Centre at: https://thehopecentre.net/ 

Learn more about Beyond the Streets Welland at: https://www.beyondthestreetswelland.com/. 

Learn more about Holy Trinity Church at: http://www.holytrinitywelland.ca/.

(Attribution: City of Welland media release)

K-D Shortage Anything But A Small Potatoes Issue

Jon Braithwaite in the Hope Centre food room, standing beside some of the shelves that accommodated Kraft Dinner.”This is not something I expected to hear,” he said. /Joe Barkovich photos

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

WELLAND – Hope Centre’s executive director was “somewhat shocked” when he learned last month the agency’s food bank was out of Kraft Dinner.

Jon Braithwaite, at Hope Centre since 2018, can’t recall this happening previously.

“Not in my time,” he said. 

He broke the news at a social March 9 for Julia’s Hope Cup volunteers when asked by Paul Turner to share a few words about the agency’s work and challenges.

It may seem like small potatoes to some, but not to Braithwaite. 

A steady increase in the number of people visiting Hope Centre is cited as a cause of recent runs on food stocks like K-D.

“Last November was the most we’ve ever seen, but we passed that in February.”

Despite the agency being open only 17 days in February, it recorded 1,213 visits at the food bank.

That was a short month in number of days open because of the Family Day holiday, a weather-related closure, and a flood in the building due to a malfunctioning hot water tank.

Increased demand for food can be attributed to a large jump in the number of first-time, new visitors showing up for assistance and also a spike in the number of children being served, Braithwaite said.

Comparing this March to March of 2022, Braithwaite expected last year’s total to be surpassed by the end of the week. He was interviewed Monday, March 13. 

A consequence of the growing demand for food by clients: food bank staff are having to dip into boxes designated for 2024.

“We’re using more pasta intended for use in 2024, when we should be using it that year or at earliest, later this year.”

The agency’s share of non-perishables collected in last fall’s city-wide food drive has been depleted, said Braithwaite. In past years, that food bonanza would last until sometime in April. But it was gone in early February, said Braithwaite.

The number of boxes marked ‘2023’ on them is becoming fewer, also a cause for concern.

“We have a few on our shelves. This is when you have to pause and say, ‘what do you do when you run out of things you always have on hand?’ That’s a challenge.”

Cost of living increases are blamed for the distress many people in the community are experiencing.

“We hear it from our clients all the time.

“Paying occupancy costs is a big part of your income. And if you get sick and have to miss a shift or two, or if your car breaks down – well, people are living so precariously now.”

Sadly, there is no end in sight to the hard times food banks themselves are going through, he said. Hope Centre’s is not alone.

“Any organization providing food security is seeing huge spikes. That’s our job, to help people through their insecurity. I just hope we can get through the next few months.”

A recent food drive organized by Niagara Regional Police for local food banks helped the cause. Another organized by the local United Way wraps up March 22. And still more help is on the way through a food drive for Hope Centre, Open Arms Mission and Holy Trinity Church coming up in April based at Seaway Mall. You can find full details about the unique endeavour at this link, just look for Upcoming events, Spring It Forward Challenge: https://www.facebook.com/thehopecentrewelland/

Braithwaite is perplexed about what can be done about the reliance on food banks by so many.

“We continue to have conversations like we’re doing now, and also talking to politicians and educating the public. That’s a long-term process. Short term, I don’t know what we’re going to do about it.”

Until something is, more and more people, including children, will find themselves caught up in a revolving door, food bank dependency lifestyle. And shortages of staples like that of Kraft Dinner will continue to be indicators of the growing challenges food banks find themselves contending with.

/Supplied graphic

Welland marks Francophonie Day with flag raising

WELLAND – The City of Welland celebrates its Francophone community on March 20, International Francophonie Day. As a designated Francophone community, the City will highlight its unique heritage through a ceremonial flag raising at City Hall at 9:30 a.m.; Bridge 13 will illuminate in green and white.  

“The City of Welland is proud to be designated as one of Ontario’s Francophone communities,” said Mayor Frank Campion. “I am proud to celebrate all of their contributions to the City of Welland throughout history and those undoubtedly coming in the future.” 

International Francophonie Day is observed yearly to celebrate the French language and Francophone culture worldwide. The Niagara Region is home to over 15,000 French speakers, most of whom are in Welland. Designated under Ontario’s French Language Services Act, Welland is committed to highlighting its French culture within the region. 

“The City of Welland’s website offers a French-language section that provides a history of Welland’s Francophone culture,” said Campion. “We are proud to partner with many French-speaking organizations and provide our French-speaking residents with resources in their official language.”

Welland is proud to share its strong history with its French-speaking community and invites all residents to learn more about the French community within the city.

Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Francophone Affairs, shared her well-wishes with the City of Welland and celebrates Francophonie day alongside the city’s Council, staff, and residents. Minister Mulroney’s letter can be read here.

(Attribution: City of Welland media release)

Barky’s Billboard

(Please support/attend this important community event)

Council 2146 Welland

BREAKFAST TO BENEFIT NUNAVUT COMMUNITY, Saturday, March 18 from 8 – 10 a.m. at Sts. Peter and Paul parish hall, 291 Beatrice Street, Welland. Freewill donations gratefully accepted. Charitable receipts on request for donations over $20 will gladly be issued. All proceeds will help send non-perishable items to the community of Repulse Bay, Nunavut. Your support is greatly appreciated. Please spread the word and bring a friend and your appetites!

(Barky’s Billboard is a recurring feature on the blog.)