‘It outweighs the dangerous’: Saskatoon wellness centre will get wave of donations

Saskatoon Tribal Council’s (STC) emergency wellness center is feeling the Christmas spirit.

During a busy Thursday morning at the shelter, a flutter of activity near the front of the shelter saw people refilling coffees, volunteers assisting relatives — the STC’s preferred term for residents — and dozens of boxes of donations being sorted, accounted for and stored .

Armond Standinready has been living at the shelter since it opened 22 days ago. Seeing the outpouring of support fills him with hope.

“It shows that people are actually caring. It shows that people have a heart, considering where I came from and what I seen out there — it outweighs the bad,” Standingready said.

Standingready said he swallowed his pride and sought out the shelter in the spring when he was released from jail.

A life spent between group homes and the streets ever since he was 14 led Standingready to what he called “a lot of pain.” Now he says he wants to become an addictions counsellor.

“I think this kind of a place here is a long time coming. I think we need more places with this understanding and direction,” he said.

STC Chief Mark Arcand said donations have been pouring in. In just 10 days, the boardroom and a three-car garage at the back of the property filled with donations after a call was put out on social media.

A little over three weeks after opening the doors, he had a tough time imagining the first month would have gone this well with so many people from the community not only accepting the shelter, but willing to help and send donations.

“I think that’s what we’re doing here is providing respect and giving them some honor and some hope and making sure that they’re being safe,” Arcand said.

He said it hasn’t just been donations of furniture, clothes and food, but personal items as well. Like handmade Christmas cards made by school kids.

The Unhoused People’s Association is donating a Christmas meal for relatives on Christmas Day.

Ally Hrbachek, the owner of Ally’s Cake Creations worked around the clock to help the shelter.

In a week, she fundraised through her home-based business to auction off her tasty treats. The winning bidder donated the winning bid to a GoFundMe, where Hbrachek quickly raised more than $5,000, which allowed her to serve up hundreds of meals to people at the wellness shelter, the Lighthouse, Prairie Harm Reduction, and the Salvation Army.

Hearing of people freezing out in the cold last Christmas before the emergency shelter opened up downtown made Hbachek want to help out any way she could this holiday season.

“That is just not okay with me. That should not be happening this day in our own community,” she said.

“No amount of money will make me feel better than the moment I feel handing something off to someone who needs it.”

Hbachek said she also plans to make 40 packs of warm clothing and food to hand out on Christmas Eve.

The single mother of three kids all below the age of six says she bakes from 7 pm to 2 am some nights, in the hope of making a difference and showing her children that anyone can be an inspiration.

“As one person you can make a difference. I’m just one person. I put this all together by myself,” she said.

“So if I can do this while still being a stay-at-home mom, while still working 40 to 50 hours a week. You can do to.”

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