SASKATOON — Staff and volunteers at the Saskatoon Friendship Inn worked through the extreme cold weather and the holidays to make sure the most vulnerable members of the community are served.
Friendship Inn executive director Sandra Kary said their doors were open every day during the Christmas and New Year holidays. They also made sure there are no long lines during days when temperatures dropped to below -30 C.
“When the temperature drops, we offer a safe, warm place for our guests to come in and get a hot cup of coffee or hot meal during mealtimes. Our hours of operation are from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily and we do our very best to not have line-ups or people waiting out in the cold.”
She added they also have a full-time social worker that works from Mondays to Fridays.
“She works to engage people, and does offer emergent counselling as needed, and then typically refers to other resources for more specialized addictions and mental health supports.”
However, Kary said the time spent by their social worker is limited to those who avail of their services.
“Because we serve so many people, it’s not feasible to focus in-depth with only a few individuals, so the approach is to build supports and offer appropriate referrals.”
The Friendship Inn serves the community the whole year and accepts various donations to help their cause.
“In terms of needs, we have been very blessed and are grateful to the community for financial support, food resources, and volunteers. However, these are our ongoing needs as we serve the community 365 days a year.”
Kary is encouraging others to help support their volunteer work.
“If anyone is looking for ways to give back to the community, we are very happy to have them connect with us to do so.”
Last month, before the extreme cold weather kicked in, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations visited the Friendship Inn to give away winter clothing — winter jackets, toques, and gloves — to individuals who avail of their services.
FSIN leaders said their gesture is their way of helping those who are struggling right now as they also encouraged individuals and other organizations to also do their share in assisting the most vulnerable members of the community.
“We’re really grateful that we have partners like FSIN support our guests and we’re pleased to have them here offering coasts and warm outwear for the holiday season,” said Kary in an earlier interview.