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Open Arms

Community centre provides more than just practical assistance in St. John’s, N.L.

Photos: Kristin Ostensen

BY KRISTIN OSTENSEN, STAFF WRITER

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Michael and Janice share a meal at the New Hope Community Centre

ix years ago, James came to the New Hope Community Centre in St. John’s, N.L., a broken man. “I walked through these doors, down-faced and hurt—my career, my life, my house, my job and my furniture gone, overnight,” he recalls. For years, James had been a fisherman, making up to $2,000 a week during fishing season. But when he got in trouble with the law, restrictions on his movement meant that he could not go out on the ships anymore. And when his unemployment benefits ran out, James realized how desperate his situation was. “It was a very trying time in my life,” he says. “I could have easily went off the deep end—drinking and waking up the next day facing 10 years. It could have gone either way.” James was trying to make the best of the situation while living on social assistance when someone pointed him to The Salvation Army and its New Hope Community Centre. “I thank God that they were there when I needed them,” he says. “You 20 • May 2015 • Salvationist

Mjr Hedley Bungay welcomes clients such as Marie to the centre

know that, on the drop of a dime, if you need anything at all, they’ll help, and that’s so good.” A Place Where Needs Are Met New Hope is a multi-faceted social services centre, with a range of programs that include a drop-in centre, soup kitchen, chiropractic services, addictions counselling, a wellness group, chaplaincy

and employment programs, as well as a full-time social worker. James is one of more than 600 people on the centre’s client list. “Our client base is growing,” says Major Hedley Bungay, executive director. “Word is getting around the community that New Hope is a place where needs are met and people are cared for.” As the centre’s client base grows, so do its offerings. One of its most recent additions is an on-site nurse practitioner, Gail Bishop, who provides health services to clients three days per week. “It could be anything from an ear infection to preventative care to cancer,” she says, noting that she sees about 30 patients each week. “We implement programs that are specifically geared to meet a need in the community,” Major Bungay shares. “No matter who comes to us, we have a professional in place to support them.” “It’s Not Just Me” Many clients at New Hope find more than assistance with their various needs—they find community. Janice has been a regular at the centre for the past three years. “I enjoy talking to people, interacting with the staff— they’re just wonderful,” she says. Janice was a home care worker for more than 10 years when her then 20-year-old son had an accident at work that nearly severed his arm with a chainsaw. In the painful aftermath of the accident, he tried to commit suicide and Janice quit work to take care of him. “I was afraid of coming home and finding my son had overdosed or cut himself,” she recalls. Her income drastically reduced, Janice often comes to New Hope to have meals. “I only have a hundred dollars to get me through every two weeks. A hundred dollars is not a lot, especially when I’m trying to feed myself and my two children. “I enjoy the fact that I can come here and meet other people and it’s not just me—I’m not the only one out there that’s in this position.” As well as coming for meals, Janice has participated in the centre’s arts and crafts program. “I’m hoping that someday I can contribute as well,” she says, “helping other people, like I’ve been helped.” Partners in Christ While the centre is careful not to duplicate programs offered by other organ-

Salvationist - May 2015  
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