Expo for homeless Winnipeggers a' one-stop shop' for services: organizer
36 service providers attended 2nd annual Gizhe Waa Ti-Sii-Win on Monday, organizer says
Close to 40 organizations helping homeless people in Winnipeg gathered together on Monday, offering services from dental services to income tax preparation and more.
"It's sort of a one-stop shop," said Lucille Bruce, CEO of End Homelessness Winnipeg, which spearheaded the event.
"People come in and they identify if they want foot care service, if they want hair cuts, if they want pet services."
The service expo is called Gizhe Waa Ti-Sii-Win, which means "working with love, kindness and generosity for others" in the Ojibwe language, Bruce said. She said it's about making services accessible to the people who need them.
"They don't necessarily have transportation. They can't cover the cost of getting these personal care services," she said.
"It's really an important event because it removes barriers for people, and it also provides free services to them. More importantly, we're hoping that they're going to remain connected to those services for the rest of year."
Ernest Merasty, who volunteered at the expo, said that when he was homeless, he didn't know where to go for help.
"Nobody noticed me," Merasty said. "Nobody cared about me. It was the feeling of hopelessness … not knowing where to reach out [for] help, not finding anybody who you can confide in."
He said the expo is a way to make services available for people.
"All the service providers that are essential to people, they can come there at one place and get a meal and … find out more information, how to get help."
Thirty-six organizations were represented at the event Monday, which also included a free meal for the people who came.
Bruce said the goal was to help 800 to 1,000 people.
"It's critically important for people who are homeless, because we know as a community that far too often, the services have been very siloed," she said. "And we recognize that if we're going to have meaningful impact for people who are homeless, we need to work more collaboratively and provide services as a community, as a whole. "