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Volunteers needed as Viola’s Place homeless shelter opens in New Glasgow

Tammy MacLaren in one of the rooms at Viola’s Place, the homeless shelter on New Glasgow that opened on Oct. 26.
Tammy MacLaren in one of the rooms at Viola’s Place, the homeless shelter on New Glasgow that opened on Oct. 26. - Kevin Adshade

NEW GLASGOW – It took a lot of work and many volunteers, but Viola’s Place is officially open.

“It takes a village. Just by the turnout today, you can tell there’s a lot of support for this,” said Tammy MacLaren, vice-chairperson of Viola’s Place Society, during an open house held Oct. 25, a little more than 24 hours before the homeless shelter opened on Marsh Street in New Glasgow.

“It took a lot of people – many, many before us – and it won’t operate unless we have a ton of volunteers. We require four every night, two for the first shift and two for the night shift.”

Volunteers are needed to do more than just assist the clients who walk through the doors, MacLaren added.

The shelter opened its doors Oct. 26, and while no one showed up needing some respite on the first weekend, vice-chairman Brian Bowden doesn’t expect that to be the norm.

“It’s a new thing for everybody. All we can do is see who comes in and who doesn’t come in, but we’re set for them – it’s there for them to access.”

People are needed for tasks like cleaning, fundraising, sorting clothes and more.

The community has been generous so far. Food and clothing, winter boots and coats, quilts, sheets - “anything we could possibly need. And it keeps coming,” MacLaren added.

“There is certainly a need for this. There’s a misconception that the homeless are perpetually homeless, but there are all kinds of degrees of homelessness. We definitely can’t stress enough the need for volunteers who can make it work.”

Clients will be served breakfast in the morning, and will be given personal care products, said Bowden.

“Toothbrush, paste, soap towels, and their own personal hygiene kit when they come in. This is needed, it’s an ongoing thing in our community and communities at large, (and) we’re overwhelmed by the support we’ve been getting.”

A shower will also be available for clients. He said the homeless shelter can accommodate up to 10 people on any given night.

Did you know?

Donations of non-perishable food will be accepted.

To volunteer:

Anyone wanting more information on volunteering or donations can contact the shelter by email at violasplacesociety@gmail.com or through its Facebook site. Phone messages can also be left at 752-0550. Volunteers are needed for the first shift - 7:30 p.m. until 7 a.m. - and the second shift, midnight until 7 a.m.

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