10 years of Open Arms

10 years of Open Arms
by Maritime

For ten years, The Salvation Army’s Open Arms Centre has been providing community and family services to the neighbourhood of Uniacke Square.

Since the establishment of the neighbourhood in the 1960s, Uniacke Square has been faced with a number of systemic barriers and a lack of available social services. Despite these challenges, the resiliency of the community remained steadfast with neighbours assisting each other as far as their means could provide.

The Salvation Army would soon be invited to join the community’s effort by providing support in the form of a casual drop-in centre for moms and their children. It wouldn’t be long before this casual drop-in was established into a weekly program and further into an afterschool program for kids, ages five to twelve. As the need for additional programs increased, so too did the presence of The Salvation Army as a permanent space, aptly named Open Arms, was established in the neighbourhood.

With the help of the Metropolitan Regional Housing Authority, Open Arms was able to expand from a single to three-unit space. Open Arms has been and continues to be, a bridge to the community; identifying the specific needs and providing the necessary resources for the community to thrive.

Jennifer Lohnes, Program Coordinator for Open Arms, knows first-hand the value of the programs that the centre provides, “We see 15 to 25 kids every day, and see each child as an investment to the community. Here the kids learn life skills and what it means to be a good citizen. It’s these kids that will continue to build a strong community.”

The Open Arms Centre provides programming and services such as after-school care, summer day-camps, life-skills workshops, women’s programs, and much more. By listening to and engaging with Uniacke residents and partnering with neighbourhood groups, Open Arms is able to address current challenges and provide meaningful and proactive services that help foster community resiliency today and for the future.