Thunder Bay

Charting a new course at Shelter House Thunder Bay

On Saturday, Shelter House Thunder Bay is inviting members of the community to a block party.

A community party, a garden, clean-up efforts and plans for daytime programming in the fall

Everything at Saturday's block party will be by donation, but the primary reason for the event is not to fundraise, said Shelter House executive director Gary Mack, seen here in the shelter's community garden. (Amy Hadley/CBC)

On Saturday, Shelter House Thunder Bay is inviting members of the community to a block party.

George Street will be blocked off between noon and 4 p.m. for the event, which will feature music, food, and kid's activities. 

"It's an opportunity for our residents, and our community, to engage with the larger community," said Gary Mack, the executive director of Shelter House. 

"Because when that happens sometimes ... we find out that our misconceptions are exactly that." 

The event is also a chance to highlight new projects Shelter House has started over the summer, including a community garden that was planted this spring, and is flourishing outside of the shelter. 

Gardening, painting and cleaning

This summer, residents also began working with a local artist on a mural project, and have taken part in several community clean-ups. 

It's all about engaging residents, said Mack, and giving them a sense of purpose, and ownership.
"The goal is to provide a safe, nurturing, supportive environment that really supports people that are our most broken citizens, that have experienced incredible trauma in their lives," he said. 

"It's about supporting them to feel better about themselves, and just make some change so that their next steps will be successful."

Mack said another initiative he's excited about is the porta-potty that was recently installed outside of Shelter House, with the help of the city. 

"This is actually kind of a big deal," he said. "The key is to restore people's dignity."

Bigger shift in the works

Down the road, Mack said Shelter House Thunder Bay has other plans for change. His goal is to begin providing daytime programming for clients in the fall. 

"You know, we're really about bringing this place to life, and we're not about just providing shelter and watching people get worse. We're taking proactive steps to help people and support people to get well."