November will see the reopening of The Table Men’s Shelter in Huntsville.

It is a seasonal service that provides up to eight beds and welcomes males from age 16 and up. Last year was the first in operation, and with the new season come some new ideas.

Previously there were restrictions as to how many nights a client could stay, but CEO Heather Berg says they are changing the approach to how long someone can stay.

“We are happy to be one of the first men’s shelters in Muskoka, and I think there is a need for shelters in other towns in Muskoka.”

One of the conditions of staying overnight was to be out the door by 8:00am, but now the shelter will be running programming during the day to take pressure off men having to find a place to go all day.

“What we are going to do this time around is be open 24-7 and have a day program,” she explains. “A lot of our guys had needed something during the day instead of having to leave at 8:00am.

“So we are really excited to have volunteers and partners to help us organize a day program.”

Some of the programming is intended to remove the stumbling blocks some homeless men face in getting transitioned into a job and housing.

“The day program will help our guests reintegrate into society,” she agrees. “People do need health cards, the (Ontario Photo) card, or some sort of ID to get on Ontario Works or Ontario Disability. Even to work, you need some kind of Social Insurance Number.”

In its previous operating year, the shelter turned over some big numbers, serving 87 clients a total of 1,424 night stays, with over 4,000 meals served. 60 per cent of the guests were from Muskoka.

A recent survey conducted by the District of Muskoka identified 147 homeless in the area. It was the first such enumeration conducted by the District and was part of a provincial initiative.

Clients can arrive through a number of different ways, including from other towns in the Muskoka area, where they receive bus vouchers to get to Huntsville.

“The system we have seen so far is that someone may go into the District (of Muskoka) office let’s say in Gravenhurst and the District can send someone north to the shelter on a bus,” Berg says. “We have had Salvation Army do the same thing. Usually, there are bus vouchers that can be received from the District and different service providers and churches help as well.”

If you would like to volunteer, donate food, clothes or money, you can visit the shelter website by clicking here.

 

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