‘Safe ‘n’ Sound’ … three words that have significant meaning for people who may have nowhere else to turn.
The not-for-profit, volunteer driven program provides the necessities of life for those who need them. Program Services Co-ordinator Connie McKay says that it is there for those on fixed incomes through Ontario Works or Ontario Disabilities. “Someone on Ontario Works, for instance,” explains McKay, “receives $369 a month. With that they have to find a place to rent, pay hydro, food, etc. Even to access the Food Bank, they have to have transportation to get there and back. We are talking about people who have to decide between buying a loaf of bread or taking a bus.”
‘Safe ‘n’ Sound’ on 8th Street East in Owen Sound provides a drop-in space where people can have a meal or even take a shower and where there is no exchange of money. McKay, who has worked in some form of social services for more than 30 years, knows the desperation that people can come up against. “We don’t sit in judgement of anyone,” says McKay. “Sometimes life happens or there are mental health or drug issues – we are simply here for everyone.”
The program has upwards of 40 to 50 volunteers and five part-time staff members. In addition to meals, they also provide clothing at no cost.
According to McKay, they are seeing more seniors and families who are being forced to access resources like ‘Safe ‘n’ Sound’. “We have four apartments in our building that provide transitional housing for one year. However, during that time, the tenants must access resources and supports that are available. While with us, they have an apartment, heat, hydro and WiFi.”
The organization has a board that includes participants in the program and relies on private donations, Grey County Social Services, the United Way and grants for specific projects.
“We are open Monday to Friday from 11:00 (10) a.m. to 4:00 p.m. but we have several churches that filled in the gap for meals on weekends and a local family provides a Sunday dinner every second Sunday of the month. Without the volunteers, we could not exist,” says McKay.
The organization is in desperate need of clothing for men, women and teens and donations are welcome at 310 8th St. E. in Owen Sound.