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Feb25WedWiseman Centre in St. John's, N.L., provides guidance to men in crisis February 25, 2009 by Captain Kim Walter
In this quiet coastal city, homelessness and substance abuse may not be the first issues that come to mind. But the need was there, and with compassion for the disadvantaged in St. John's, N.L., the Salvation Army's Wiseman Centre opened its doors in 1986. In its early days, the centre provided basic food and shelter. Then in 2002, the Wiseman Centre broadened its mandate to provide further services to its clients. “It has become a home, a haven and a place of hope for men who have found themselves homeless, in turmoil and without hope,” says Major Marlene George, manager at the Wiseman Centre.
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The facility is named for General Clarence Wiseman, 10th international leader of The Salvation Army, who described himself as an “incurable Salvationist.” Not only was The Salvation Army an important part of his heritage, Clarence Wiseman was also a proud Newfoundlander. It is fitting that the centre, dedicated to guiding men in St. John's through life's crises, be named in his memory.
The goal of the Wiseman Centre is to empower each man in its programs to reach his full potential so that he can live productively in the community.
One of those men is Robbie (not his real name), who found himself homeless after his 20-year marriage ended. He wandered from job to job and boarding room to boarding room, getting in with the wrong crowd and becoming an alcoholic. “If it weren't for the Wiseman Centre, I'm not sure where I'd be today. They set me in the right direction,” he comments. Robbie now lives independently and continues to receive support from the outreach program at the centre.
Clients like Robbie develop life skills during their stay at the Wiseman Centre. Counsellors help the men learn how to manage their money, stress and anger. They teach them to cook for themselves and take care of their homes. The men are encouraged to develop an active lifestyle through regular physical exercise. Alcoholics Anonymous and employment services are also available to the residents. The spiritual aspect of recovery is emphasized through the availability of a Bible study program as well as individual spiritual direction, as desired.
The Wiseman Centre is a place of hope for its clients as well as one of inspiration for its staff. Kevin Perry is pleased to be a member of the Wiseman Centre team. “This is a special place,” he says. “As a very young person, I often questioned why so many people walked the streets, without a home and without purpose. I wondered what could be done to help them. Now as a residential worker, I am directly involved in helping men with mental illness, addictions and other challenges. The centre gives hope to people who are discouraged. We have the opportunity to show that Christ came to give them a new start. It's the care and support from all of the staff that helps the men get back on track and find direction. I am humbled and most fortunate to be part of this work.”
Major George echoes Kevin's enthusiasm. “While we will continue to find new ways of improving service delivery and program development, I believe General Clarence Wiseman would be pleased to see the work that is being accomplished at the Wiseman Centre and the lives that are impacted for good.”