Men's shelter seldom empty

A year after Charlottetown's only emergency men's shelter reopened the house is seldom empty for the night.
Support for the Charlottetown men's shelter Bedford MacDonald House is strong, says the Salvation Army. (CBC)

A year after Charlottetown's only emergency men's shelter reopened the house is seldom empty for the night.

Bedford MacDonald House had some difficult years before the Salvation Army took it over last fall. It was closed for six months in 2011 with no one to operate it.  A group of local churches stepped in, but the house was in serious need of renovations.

Bedford MacDonald House serves not only the local community but people from off-Island, says manager Sandy Brace. (CBC)

An anonymous donation of $200,000 allowed those renovations to go ahead, and the Salvation Army agreed to take over operations, but the house was closed through the fall of 2012 while the renovations were done.

With the new renovations the house has 12 beds.

"I've been here some nights where we just didn't have anyone, but very seldom that happens," says manager Sandy Brace.

"I've seen a night in here with every bed full. And we actually sent one over to another facility."

Brace said it's not just local men taking advantage of the shelter.

"People that are transients, even from the Magdalen Islands, they come over and sometimes they just need a place for the night," said Brace.

Salvation Army Capt. Jamie Locke said the local community has embraced the shelter, and support for it is strong.

"I can recall one gentleman coming into my office and asking, 'Well, what does it cost for you to heat the house for a month?' And right there on the spot that gentleman wrote a cheque and said, 'Well, I'd like to cover next month's oil bill,'" said Locke.

While community support for the shelter is strong, Locke said stormy weather in December has hit a major fundraiser for the Salvation Army. The weather has led to fewer people at malls, and so fewer contributions to the annual red kettle campaign.

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