Downtown Mission fights to meet your needs, find volunteers

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Downtown Mission is struggling to find enough volunteers and donations, largely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, even though there are still high demands to feed and provide shelter to the homeless or others in need.

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“We are seeing an increase in the need for all of our services,” said Rukshini Ponniah-Goulin, Acting Executive Director of the Mission. “The use of our food bank has increased 14% compared to the previous year. Our shelter has been at full capacity for the past two weeks.

“We are doing everything possible to meet the needs. The difficulty is that our costs are increasing from last year and our number of volunteers and fundraisers has decreased, perhaps because some people do not feel safe (due to COVID-19) ”.

The holiday season is an annual time of increased fundraising for local agencies providing assistance to those in need and the Mission of the Center is hopeful that this year generosity will be considered in their leadership.

Rukshini Ponniah-Goulin, Acting Executive Director of Downtown Mission is shown at the organization's food bank on Tuesday, December 7, 2021. There is a shortage of donations and volunteers.
Rukshini Ponniah-Goulin, Acting Executive Director of Downtown Mission is shown at the organization’s food bank on Tuesday, December 7, 2021. There is a shortage of donations and volunteers. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

The Mission provides 80 beds for the night, addiction recovery counseling, daily meals, a food bank and other services to help those in need.

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“The schools and other groups that used to do fundraising drives for us are not there like in the past (due to the pandemic),” Ponniah-Goulin said. “Some of that is starting over, but a lot of those donations that came in (previously) helped buy our food or pay the bills that have to be paid every month.”

Among clients, they see many with greater mental health problems and addictions, again in part due to the pandemic due to isolation or additional stressors in life due to job loss or the inability to pay bills.

“Even on the mission, you can’t stay in the dining room all day to play cards or just talk,” Ponniah-Goulin said. “You have to eat your food and go. More people are struggling with that feeling of isolation or lack of social contact, causing them more mental health problems. There are also more people struggling with addictions. “

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The Mission Phoenix program works with people to help a dozen clients each month through counseling and other methods to help guide people through and back from addiction.

Meanwhile, the Downtown Mission Food Bank, like many others in the Windsor area, is seeing a lot of new faces coming to shop for groceries.

“We see new people coming to our food bank or those who haven’t been here in five or six years and are back now,” Ponniah-Goulin said. “It could be due to job instability, working fewer hours, plus there are higher costs to have a house and everything else.”

For more information on volunteering at Downtown Mission or donating, call 519-973-5573 or visit the website downtownmission.com .

“During these difficult times, if people can provide a financial donation, that would help,” Ponniah-Goulin said. “Volunteering would also be of great help to us.”

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Reference-windsorstar.com

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