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EDITORIAL: Board’s effort addresses a grave need

It looks like Pictou County has come full circle with the challenge of homelessness in the area.

The committee working on this task over the past year and more deserves many thanks for a job well done, as they fit a major piece of the puzzle into place.

After many meetings to get public input, and investigation of various options, the board looking into possibilities for an adult shelter has announced it will be purchasing the former Life Centre Church in New Glasgow to establish a permanent location.

The move involves a fair degree of serendipity since that was where the first such shelter was established. A welcome addition to the community, that original endeavour ended, however, when the congregation hosting LifeShelter disbanded.

That former congregation and its pastor deserve recognition for first seeing the need, and acting on it.

In addition, First Baptist Church in New Glasgow stepped forward in the interim to provide a temporary shelter one night a week to help those in need.

This followup will see the board purchasing the Life Centre building from the Pentecostal Church of Canada for the price of $60,000, providing the means to continue this service in Pictou County seven days a week. It will offer a place of refuge to anyone finding themselves in need, or people passing through the area.

The board is calling on people to make donations of items that will help make the interior comfortable, warm, homey and inviting. Other support – financial and volunteer help – will also be required.

We saw the same recognition of a need followed by action in New Glasgow with the establishment of Roots for Youth and its shelter.

This is by no means a new societal problem. It’s always been a part of communities, perhaps more so in cities than in small towns and rural areas. The latter also have had instances, although they’re often not as visible.

Homelessness has also received more attention in recent years. It’s not so much a matter of people having turned a blind eye decades ago, but there wasn’t near the awareness among the general population of the problem.

Fortunately, now that people are more aware, we see a widespread willingness to help, particularly on the front lines, to see that those with limited options can find shelter, a meal, a bed and a feeling of comfort, followed by references as to where they can seek further help in the community.

The kind response has been non-judgmental, with community members realizing that such a predicament could happen to anyone, could come for a host of reasons such as mental health issues, family breakdown or just plain bad fortune.

The response we’ve witnessed in Pictou County has been a determined push from some caring individuals to see that people don’t fall through the cracks. Seeing that they succeed in this effort will work best with widespread contributions and support.

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