Today, The Salvation Army provides 5,500 beds each night for men, women, youth and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Last year, 2.8 million free meals were served at the Army’s shelters and food service programs, including the Booth Centre in Montreal.

The Booth Centre offers temporary housing, three meals a day, private rooms and the support of intervention workers for men 18 and over who are experiencing housing difficulties and problems such as alcoholism, substance-use disorders or mental illness. It serves as a valuable example of The Salvation Army’s work, supporting vulnerable communities across Canada, and their army of givers who make it possible.

But while the Army provides hope for those in need, this is not limited to those entering its doors. Here are just two examples of how individuals with different life experiences have been helped:

The Client

Richard has been staying at The Salvation Army’s Booth Centre in Montreal for the past three months. With three more to go before moving on to transitional housing, the 47-year-old Indigenous man from Red Bank, N.B., can already speak to its impact on his life.

“I found a place of refuge,” he says. “I feel really welcomed here.

“What you put into it is what you get out of it,” Richard goes on to say about his days at the Booth Centre, which include chores, workshops and spiritual care. “Everyone has a different story and you can’t judge anyone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”

Now surrounded by a supportive network at The Salvation Army, he’s saving money for an apartment, a better future, and to help his friends.

Fleurette volunteers in the kitchen at The Salvation Army’s Booth Centre in Montreal

The Volunteer

Fleurette, who volunteers in the kitchen at the Booth Centre, knows it doesn’t take an abundance of time or money to help a person in need, simply the desire to spread hope and provide mutual aid, which is what The Salvation Army is founded on.

Fleurette helps prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner for those on their path to recovery.

She encountered The Salvation Army in the early ’90s, when she moved to Montreal from Haiti.

“I started volunteering with seniors while I was looking for a full-time job,” she says. “It was a good way for me to get to know the city and help other people.”

She has continued to volunteer for various roles within the organization because she believes in being of service to others. Speaking with those at the Booth Centre, she can tell her work is making a difference.

“They always stop me on my way in and out to chat and thank me for my help,” she says. “It warms my heart.”

Through their compassionate care, volunteers like Fleurette help those who may need a little extra support, like Richard. The power of a helping hand, a healthy meal or even a warm smile on a challenging day cannot be underestimated. Such acts can make a real difference in someone’s life, and the foundation of The Salvation Army’s army of givers, which includes donors, sponsors and volunteers, help Canadians in need succeed.

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of The Salvation Army.

Reprinted from National Post, November 19, 2021.

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