Shirley Westeinde, President of Westeinde Properties Ltd., is no stranger to the issues of homelessness and housing affordability that drive the good works of The Ottawa Mission.
In 1999, this Best Ottawa Business (BOBs) Lifetime Achievement Award recipient chaired the Mayor’s Task Force on Affordable Housing. Even then, the emphasis was on how best to create the housing options and support programs that would help vulnerable community members acquire housing.
But 20 years later, the issues of homelessness and housing affordability persist, and have actually gotten worse. This means that the role of The Ottawa Mission and other shelter organizations across the region is more important than ever.
Despite her general awareness of The Mission and its work, Westeinde didn’t fully appreciate just how impactful its role in the community was until she read about the Mission’s new Business on a Mission (BOAM) program in the OBJ’s September issue.
That prompted her to take a personal tour and step up as a BOAM corporate sponsor.
“I was quite impressed,” she said. “What struck me was the fact that the Mission also provides services that support women – a point that I think some people may not be aware of.”
While an average of 1,358 meals are served each day and 195 beds for emergency shelter are occupied every night, The Mission is much more than a place to sleep and get a hot meal.
Workable solutions to end homelessness
What impressed Westeinde the most are the Mission’s programs to end homelessness and provide wraparound care to support those in need. These include addiction treatment, employment and housing services as well as medical, dental and hospice care.
In particular, she noted the Food Services Training Program as part of the education and job training initiatives. This program trains applicants to work in the food-service industry and has a 95 per cent success rate for graduates finding working in the field. It has proven so popular that The Ottawa Mission is expanding the program to train more students at a larger offsite facility.
And Westeinde applauds The Mission’s effort to address the region’s serious housing affordability issue. The Mission has acquired to date two multi-unit residential properties. In these properties, some rental units are offered at market rates and others at below-market rates, to balance the need to deliver affordable housing options while ensuring each property has enough income for its maintenance and operation.
Sean Wong, Executive Director of The Ottawa Mission Foundation, emphasizes that all of these programs and initiatives are supported when a corporate donor steps up to support the Business on a Mission campaign.
“We believe that all business are on a mission to deliver value to their customers and community,” he said. “At the intersection of these shared values, we invite the business community to partner with The Ottawa Mission to help end homelessness in our great city. We believe engagement with our work will help drive and support a caring and compassionate culture with each business partner.”
“The entire community must work together to address homelessness and housing affordability, from the private sector to every level of government,” Westeinde added. “Corporate donors can play a big part in that by supporting The Mission as it works to make a meaningful difference and continue the leadership role that our community needs.”
Become a champion today
How does BOAM work?
By making a symbolic gift of shelter – from $1,000 for a single bed up to $15,000 for an entire shelter floor – local corporate champions are not only providing the immediate help that so many need, but they are supporting all of the core programs at The Mission that allow people to move on to meaningful and productive lives.
“Homelessness in our community is now so serious that it requires all sectors, including the business community, to play their part,” said The Ottawa Mission Foundation’s Sean Wong. “We invite the business community to support the drive to end homelessness and ensure that everyone has a place to call home.”