Family Centre extends hours through winter

Sam Odrowski

The Fort Frances Homeless Committee has been operating a warming centre out of the Apostolic Way Church (324 Victoria Ave) since mid-December to help provide those in need with shelter through the night.

The “Out of the Cold” program that the warming centre is run through operates seven days a week from 8:30 p.m to 7:30 a.m.

To ensure people in the district can also keep warm through the daytime, the Family Centre, which is a separate entity, located beside the Volunteer Bureau at 140 4th St. W., has extended its hours to open at 8:00 a.m. and close for 8 p.m.

Yesterday (Jan. 7) was the first day of the Family Centre’s new hours, although they did operate for 24 hours when the homeless committee’s warming centre was closed on Dec. 24-25, and 31.

The Family Centre recently started renting out additional space to ensure there’s enough room for those who utilize its services, which includes hot meals, warm clothing, and a welcoming atmosphere.

The additional space has allowed the centre to run various activities through the day, but because it receives no government funding, there has been an increased financial burden.

“We’re really hoping we can stay here, because we know that in December on the days we didn’t have this [extra space] it was very crowded . . . almost to the point of tripping over each other,” noted Monica Sus of the Family Centre.

Currently, the Family Centre has enough money to rent out the larger space throughout the winter but once April comes they will be completely out of funds.

“What we do past that depends on the generosity of the public,” Sus noted.

The Family Centre receives zero financial assistance from the government and has sustained itself solely on donations from the community for nearly two years.

Through the holidays organizations throughout the community have stepped up to provide the Family Centre with financial donations to help get through the winter.

Those who utilize the centre vary from those who are less fortunate trying to make ends meet, to homeless individuals, and everything in between.

Sus said their focus is on being a drop in centre and providing much needed services to those who are lonely or need a place to hangout during the day.

The services they now provide for homeless people and those who are struggling financially have been added to the facility to address the needs of the community.

“We play all sorts of different roles, sometimes we’re here for support, sometimes we refer to other agencies but we’re pretty well busy all day and we’re never empty there’s always somebody here all day long,” she explained.

Sus told the Times that without the Family Centre loneliness would be a much larger issue in Fort Frances.

“I think loneliness is a huge problem in our society,” she said. “People just don’t know where to go with their tiniest of little problems . . . they want to vent.”

“Where do you vent in today’s society? We’re very closed off from each other nowadays,” Sus added.

She stressed that anybody is welcome at the Family Centre and they can provide a safe, non judgemental atmosphere to all who walk through their doors.

“It’s not a place where you bring your family, it’s a place where you come and you’re treated like family,” Sus smiled.

Anybody who is interested in volunteering with the Family Centre or providing a donation can contact Sus at 271-2839 and express their interest.