As the holiday seasons approach, many of us think about, hope for, and prepare for making great food and memories with our families. We can’t help but start to feel warmth, joy, and thankfulness as we anticipate what’s next.
Unfortunately, for many of our neighbours, the coming seasons are just as difficult as the ones that have passed. They instill fear, instead of joy, cold, instead of warmth, and sadness, instead of thankfulness. Giving thanks in all circumstances seems next to impossible. While most families prepare to sit down and have holiday meals together, many are wondering if they’ll be able to eat at all.
With rent prices continuing to climb and social assistance rates remaining low, poverty rates are increasing, and with them, food bank usage. According to Hamilton Food Share’s 2018 Hunger Count, 9,211 food bank users pay market rent rates and 4,698 of them spend more than half their income on rent. Carol Cowan-Morneau, Mission Services’ executive director, is the co-chair of the Emergency Food Strategic Planning Committee in Hamilton, and echoes the words of Hamilton Food Share: “After struggling to cover the basics, come payday, there is no ‘nice to have’ on your household list – only what you can afford. For too many, too often, food will barely make an appearance on that list.”
Our Good Food Centre does all it can to help the more than 900 families, or 2,500 individuals, that use our food centre every month. When summer ends, the need for food donations stay just as high, or even increase as the colder months come.
While local groups fight for fair rent prices to decrease burdens, we need your help to fight food insecurity. Please support Mission Services’ Good Food Centre in the coming seasons. Help us in the fight against poverty today and spread some holiday joy to our neighbours.
In this issue, we hear from participants and staff from our women’s programs – Willow’s Place, our safe women’s drop-in centre, and Inasmuch House, our Violence Against Women Shelter. The stories that Diane and Laura tell are touching, and inspire hope.
This is only part of the story. Sadly, the violence and abuse many women face leads to homelessness which is a growing crisis in Hamilton. Consider this: In Hamilton there are women in need of emergency shelter services, who cannot find space because every bed is full. Services to support women who are abused or homeless are in high demand, in short supply, and inadequately funded.
Mission Services sees women with diverse needs and no vital supports, no food, no safe place to sleep and without social connections. A “safe” space for a woman, such as those at Willow’s Place Drop-In and at Inasmuch House Shelter, is exclusively for women, with secured entrance and staff support that is non-judgmental and caring. This space is low-barrier, which means that services are sensitive to women who have experienced extreme forms of trauma from violence and abuse and all women are welcome and cared for, regardless of their needs.
But we need long-term solutions. We need increased funding for emergency beds and essential supports.
Most of all, we need you. Our supporters and funders – our family – are the backbone of what we do. Without you, we could not make a difference in our community. Your generosity connects women to the help and supports that they need, gives them a safe place to rest, and allows them to find a family who cares for them.
Thank you for helping positively affect women in our community and being the glue that binds us together, allowing us all to find family among our neighbours.