Providing Hope to Those in Need for 25 Years

Article excerpt

Siloam Mission hosts party for milestone

Wayne Norton sat outside Siloam Mission and watched Friday's festivities to mark the 25th anniversary of the agency that serves those less fortunate in Winnipeg.

Norton has been staying at the facility for the last eight months while he turns his life around.

"They're very open-minded here. I've never felt judged. They've been there for me at a time when friends and family weren't. They're just good people doing a very good thing," Norton said.

Norton wouldn't elaborate on the circumstances that brought him to Siloam, other than to say he "took a tumble" after working in government health care for more than 20 years. He was on his third and fourth chances when he found the mission, "like a hand pushing me down Princess Street to find Siloam," he said.

Norton's is just one of the many success stories in the making told Friday as the mission hosted a block party outside its Princess Street facility. Dozens of the mission's guests, volunteers and friends showed up for a barbecue lunch, a visit and enjoy the music of the DJ St. Germain Band.

What started 25 years ago as a small soup kitchen in a cramped building on Main Street, serving a few days a week, has grown into a four-storey, full-service organization. The mission now offers daily meals, an emergency shelter, clothing and hygiene items, a health-care centre, employment training programs and transitional support.

Executive director Floyd Perras finds the anniversary a bittersweet occasion.

"Twenty-five years later, the growth of homelessness here and across Canada, I don't know if the correct word is explode, but continues to grow," Perras said. "There's been fabulous support from Manitobans to help Siloam and help the individuals that are here today. …