The Salvation Army’s Journey to Life Centre in the city has been open
one year and already has had two individuals graduate from the program.
Those individuals are now living and working in the community.
On Monday, the Salvation Army recognized World Homeless Day by
highlighting the work done at some of its locations across Ontario,
including the Journey to Life Centre, in videos on its YouTube
channel. The videos feature clients sharing their stories of how the
organization has helped them.
“I think the key things is we’re more than a shelter,” said Gary
Ferguson, executive director of the Salvation Army and Journey to
Life Centre in Thunder Bay. “What we do is when individuals come in
here, we try to work with them.
“When they first come in, within 48 hours they’re meeting with a case
worker and we’re identifying what their needs are.”
As clients stay longer, Ferguson said they work to find which
supports that client needs.
Those needs include case management, advocacy, health care, life
skills, vocational training, housing or connecting to partner agencies.
“We’re trying to connect people with the resources they need,” he said.
The Journey to Life Centre offers a program to help individuals
acquire the skills they need before moving into the community on
“It’s always individualized,” said Ferguson. “We’ve had two recent
graduates that have succeeded. . . . It could be something simple
like learning to do laundry and cook. If an individual goes into an
apartment, they need to understand the culture of being a tenant.”
And going into the workforce, the expectations of an employer must
also be known.
Aside from the Journey to Life program, the centre also offers a food
bank and Ferguson said they hand out up to 400 hampers monthly.
The Salvation Army also runs a breakfast program for St. James Public
School amongst a variety of other services.
“When Covid ends, we are going to open up our community kitchen again
and that will be something for the public where they can come and
learn how to cook,” said Ferguson.