Salvation Army Mobile Units Combating Winter Worries in Saint John

Salvation Army workers stand in front of mobile feeding van

A warm place to come home to and a comforting meal is part of daily life for most, but for those experiencing homelessness, it is a luxury that is not guaranteed.

The Maritimes have seen several storms over the past few weeks as we settle into the winter months, which has increasingly affected our most at-risk populations. In Saint John, New Brunswick, The Salvation Army has been operating mobile service units to help combat the freezing temperatures the province has been experiencing and providing clientele with a warm meal and a place to get out of the cold.

“We needed to find ways to serve our community better,” says Major Tracy Goyak, corps officer (Saint John). “Our mobile units provide us with the ability to do wellness checks and make sure everyone is warm and fed and taken care of.”

The Salvation Army’s mobile units are filling gaps in the city of Saint John, taking advantage of times during the day when local emergency shelters are closed, stopping in various parts of the city to hand out food, hot drinks, hand warmers and dry clothing.

“With approximately 120 homeless people living in our city, we cannot forget about them when we are safe and warm in our own homes,” says Goyak. “This is truly when they need us the most.”

Depending upon household bubbles, the mobile units can accommodate three to six people, with clientele typically spending 15-20 minutes in the vans. For those experiencing homelessness, extra time may be needed to change into a dry pair of socks and receive additional warm clothing. “During their time in the van, our workers sit with them to offer conversation and also to find out if they need help getting into an overnight shelter,” shared Goyak.

By Lindsey MacDonald