MORRISBURG – The High Street Community Hub is quietly becoming the go-to place for anyone in need of assistance.
“If you need help and you don’t know where to go, drop-in and see us,” said Kristina McDermott, Linking Hands coordinator with the House of Lazarus. “Chances are we can help or connect you with someone who can help.”
The Community Hub, which is a partnership between House of Lazarus and the Anglican Parish of South Dundas, opened initially in Morrisburg in the St. James Anglican rectory as a warming centre in January with a view to providing a safe, warm space with helping the homeless in mind.
“The warming centre was what I was initially thinking would grow, but it hasn’t really. It’s all the other things offered here that have grown,” said Rev. Mark Lewis of the South Dundas Anglican Parish.
Those other things are the advocacy services and community outreach opportunities that are now bringing in about 90 visits a month.
“This has become a clearing house of services,” said Lewis, adding that if Kristina and the HOL staff don’t know how to help someone, they will work tirelessly to make the right connections.
“As people become aware of what’s available to them, you can just see the weight lifting from them,” said McDermott.
Proud of what they’ve established in the months since opening their doors, the Community Hub is inviting the community to a special open house this Friday, May 26 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Featuring a free barbecue thanks to sponsors Williamsburg Meat Market, Roy McMurtry Legal Clinic and Giant Tiger, the open house will offer tours, activities and a chance to meet the faces of the hub including partner agencies.
Through The Hub, access to agencies typically based in Cornwall such as the Legal Clinic, Recovery Care or United Way is now regularly available locally.
McDermott said that what they are looking for from those who attend the open house is feedback. “We want to have conversations about how we can help meet people’s needs,” she said.
“What’s happening here is amazing,” said Lewis.
“There’s no model or blueprint for what we’ve started here. We are always looking for new ideas and thoughts on how best to serve the people of the community. It’s exciting times … and scary times too,” said Lewis. “It’s so exciting to have a place to try something new, and see what happens.”
What’s happened so far is enough to provide a weekly schedule of opportunities starting Monday mornings with a free breakfast and activity, which could be anything from free haircuts to bingo. The advocacy centre is available in the afternoon.
Tuesdays are Legal Clinic days.
Wednesdays the free income tax clinic is available.
Thursday mornings the Recovery Care mobile clinic is available providing support, education and treatment for substance use.
Thursdays feature a free drop-in lunch (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) which last week was soup and muffins provided by Russell Manor. “Ron (Currie) just dropped in and offered to do this,” said Lewis, thankful that people in the community have taken the initiative to reach out to find a way to contribute.
Like at Mondays’ breakfasts, everyone is welcome for food and fellowship, no matter their circumstances. “It’s important that people know everyone is welcome here. We need to eliminate stigmas to help get people to take that first step through the door,” said Lewis. “This hub is for everyone.”
“Every person who walks through the doors here has left grateful,” said McDermott.
“Hopefully this open house will open a lot of eyes to what’s going on and the good that’s being done,” said Lewis. “I hope this open house will stimulate a lot of important conversations.
Asked: Who should attend this open house? The answer is everyone.
Not only should those curious about the services attend, but so too should members of the business community and more.
Lewis adds that money is always a great way to help, and that donations are always welcome. (Online: HOL.community to donate)
Because there’s no model guiding how The Hub is evolving, seeing first hand what is happening already and seeing for oneself what can be done to help take care of people can only add to the overall well being of The Hub and the community it serves.
The Community Hub is located at 22 High Street Morrisburg.