Prince Edward Island is known as the home of Anne of Green Gables and the birthplace of Confederation, attracting tourists from across Canada and beyond. With 150,000 residents, it’s the smallest province by size and population. But it’s not immune to the social problems that affect larger cities and provinces.

Major Daniel Roode, corps officer at The Salvation Army’s Charlottetown Community Church, sees these problems up close. P.E.I. is the fastest-growing Atlantic province, according to the most recent census, and that has put pressure on the housing market. For those who can’t afford housing, it means homelessness; for those who can, but just barely, it means less money for food and other essentials.

The church’s Friendship Room, which is open every weekday, aims to help alleviate these issues. “The Friendship Room reaches out to vulnerable people,” says Major Daniel, “providing an opportunity for them to come in off the street in the morning and get a continental breakfast.” Donated food items such as fresh bread and canned goods are also available for anyone to take while the program is operating.

Major Daniel notes that the Friendship Room welcomes people of all backgrounds, but especially people who are homeless, on fixed incomes, the working poor and newcomers to Canada. “It really is a cross-section of humanity, and a cross-section of our society as we see it evolving in Canada today,” he says.

Mark TippettMark Tippett has been coming to the Friendship Room for two years. “I don’t have a lot of money,” says Mark, who has been on disability since he injured his leg. “There are good people here and it’s nice to just have breakfast and talk.”

Marguerite KeatingMarguerite Keating volunteers on Wednesdays and Thursdays. “I have a soft spot in my heart for the Army,” she says. “My father was a prisoner in Hong Kong during the Second World War, and he always told his children, ‘If you have any extra money and you don’t know what to do with it, give it to The Salvation Army. During the war, they were the only ones that helped us.’ ”

Volunteers prayEvery morning before the doors are opened, Steffen Hood (left), office administrator, and his volunteers pray together. “Working for the Army is meaningful for me because we help people in both a spiritual and a practical way,” he says.

Carolyn MacNeill“I’m a senior and I’ve got rent and bills to pay and that leaves me short,” says Carolyn MacNeill, who has come to the Friendship Room for the past five years. “It’s not easy, but it’s even more difficult if you’re on welfare because they don’t as much as seniors get.”

Major Glenda RoodeMajor Glenda Roode, corps officer, chats with people at the breakfast program. “The Friendship Room is a place where people can come and socialize and feel safe,” she says.

Chapel serviceThe church holds a chapel service after the breakfast program on Wednesdays. “Sometimes in this world, when we feel like we’ve been beat up, it feels like people don’t care,” says Major Daniel Roode. “But the good news is there’s always Somebody who cares about you. Even when you feel like you’re lost and alone, or down and out, God cares.”

Robert Frizzell“I’m on a fixed income and live in the community care centre, so I don’t have enough money to treat myself to the coffee and donuts I get here,” says Robert Frizzell. “The Friendship Room helps a lot of the poor and unfortunate people in Charlottetown.”

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