Helping people find their way

Male employee stands in front of Salvation Army building
by Maritime

    Charlie is the first friendly face most people see as they enter the doors of the Centre of Hope in Halifax to seek help. Working with The Salvation Army for 14 years, Charlie has provided support to hundreds of individuals searching for food, shelter and simply for someone to lean on.

    Seeking The Salvation Army as someone in need himself many years ago, Charlie understands first-hand what many of the men he meets are experiencing. “My history helps me to connect with the clients; I know what it’s like to be homeless. When an individual first comes through the door, I listen intently to try to understand their needs also recognizing that asking for help is a hard thing to do.”

    With his incredible knowledge of all the supports available and the relationship he builds with those who reach out for his help, Charlie plays a key role in helping to transition men ages 19 to 64 to the next phase of their life journey. Treating everyone with compassion, Charlie helps to ensure those he supports get to appointments and access to medical prescriptions, and he helps them prepare for job interviews, essentially starting the process of getting them back on their feet.

    “I not only complete the intake application, it is my job to find out what brought the person here and to determine any health related issues. People arrive at The Centre of Hope for a variety of reasons – a house fire, loss of a job, relocation, and quite often, we see a lot of individuals struggling with mental health; it’s not always addictions that bring people here. The more I learn about the individual, the better I am able to provide the best supports available.”

    Charlie immediately builds a relationship of trust as he helps tailor a plan to the individual’s needs and he also offers ongoing encouragement and care to help propel the men forward. For Charlie’s job to be successful, he collaborates with a team of supports. On a regular basis, he works with members of the Mobile Outreach Street Health (MOSH) team, in particular with a nurse practitioner who assists with prescriptions, as well as with the North End Clinic. He also works collaboratively with other local shelters. In addition, his support is critical to the work of Residential Coordinator, Rebekah Brounstein, as well as to the role of Housing Case Manager with The Salvation Army filled by Krista Wells who helps to secure homes for many men following the Government of Canada’s Housing First model.

    “I love my job, I always wanted to be in a position to be able to help people and in this case, I’m helping men become all that they can be,” says Charlie. He adds, “These guys have so much potential, sometimes they just need someone to help them see their value and walk with them to the next phase of their life. And it’s so rewarding to see those who have come through our doors stop by years later to tell us how far they have come because of our help.”

    A former client recently donated steel toed boots for the men at the Centre of Hope and because of valuable donations and partnerships, the Centre is able to prepare men with suits when needed along with haircuts to prepare them for job interviews. Eastern College students in the Barbering program offer haircuts one day each week.

    The Centre of Hope has 16 apartments, 16 beds for the Anchorage Recovery Program, 40 shelter beds and six additional emergency beds for men in need. The shelter is almost always full each night year- around at a cost of $45.80 to stay, which is often supplemented and includes three meals, coffee, a place to wash clothes, as well as access to supports like Charlie.

    Read Finding a place to call home to learn about how The Salvation Army is helping individuals secure stable housing.