House of Peace fundraising dinner expected to serve 1,000
Transitional housing centre helps newcomer women learn Canadian culture before they move out
The House of Peace is set to welcome hundreds of temporary neighbours Monday.
About 1,000 people are expected to take part in a fundraising dinner at the RBC Convention Centre Monday evening for Holy Names House of Peace, a transitional housing non-profit for newcomers to Canada in the heart of Winnipeg's downtown.
At any given time, 20 women live in the House of Peace, said Sister Lesley Sacouman, who lives with them.
The women have come from countries such as Nigeria, Kenya and Liberia, fleeing poverty, war and abuse.
"We moved into that building not knowing what would we do, not having any money, but we moved because the opportunity was there," she said of the building on Edmonton Street.
"Just previous to this I had had the opportunity to go to New York City and I lived there in a shelter for two months with the street people and I loved living with the people. That was so enriching. The place was disgusting, though. The cockroaches and the mice the size of rats, that about drove me around the bend.
"When I left there, I was convinced of two things. One, I wanted to live with people and not just work with people, and secondly, that the place would be beautiful. And beautiful didn't mean wealth and riches, it meant cleanliness and care, and that's what the House of Peace has turned into."
Residents of the House of Peace live communal-style, with separate bedrooms but shared facilities like kitchens. They stay there until they learn English, find jobs and feel they can support themselves.
"And the good thing is, they all return. They all come back to visit and many of them will be here at the dinner tonight."
In addition to the residences in the back of the building, House of Peace offers programming to those who wander through their open doors and space for programs like Cocaine Anonymous.
"We're open at 6:50 every morning, and we're open to the public until 6 p.m. And that's an amazing resource at the heart of the city."
When residents leave, it's bittersweet, Sacouman said.
"It's awful," she said with a laugh. "They're my family. But when they leave, but what always feels so good, is they're ready. They're ready, they can speak the language, they've got a job, they're going to school and they're ready to move on, so of course, I'm ready to encourage and wanting them to succeed."
Tonight's Welcome Home Dinner fundraiser for the centre will be MC'd by Information Radio morning show host Marcy Markusa. Tickets are $50 and are available by calling 204-942-5535. The reception begins at 5 p.m., with dinner at 6:30 p.m.