With support from the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta and its generous donors, the Friendship Centre offers a One Window Resource that helps address the critical needs of individuals in the community considered at risk or in need. The program works to provide non-financial services that help those individuals sustain stability in our community. From an emergency food closet, free gently-used clothing, hygiene supplies, referrals, job board listings, to three evening weekly meals, the program is making a difference in lives.
For program co-ordinator Maureen Laboucan, the success of the program can be encapsulated in the story of Justin, a young man who was a regular in the winter of 2017.
“Justin was usually one of the first ones there, hungry as a bear and ready to eat whatever we put out for the clients,” says Laboucan. “We warm place to be, hot coffee and asked him how he’s been and if he needed anything. His mom reached out to us looking for him ‘cause he told her he eats every day thanks to us!”
Justin’s mom in Nova Scotia contacted the Friendship Centre in December trying to get in touch with him so she could get him on a bus back home for the winter.
Laboucan continued to stay in touch with Justin’s mom and keep her up to date on how he was doing when she saw him as he did have some substance abuse issues.
By mid-January, Justin was on a bus on the way home to Nova Scotia.
In March, Laboucan got a message from Justin’s mom that he was doing well and had been sober since he got home. “He’s really been a joy to have around. Just thought Maureen might want to know. Justin speaks highly of all of you,” she wrote. “Thanks for all you do to help people.”
For Laboucan and the staff at the Grande Prairie Friendship Centre a simple thank you meant the world. “Knowing that we made a difference in someone’s life is very impactful,” she says.