Story from 24Hrs-October-20_2010

  • 20 Oct 2010
  • 24 Hours Edmonton
  • QMI Agency

No judgment from Refuge

For those on the streets who have nowhere to turn, there is one Edmonton facility run by the soul of volunteers that makes “no judgments.”

John Serving
AMBER BRACKEN, QMI AGENCY John Pasturs helps to prepare dinner in the kitchen at the House of Refuge Mission, 1033995 Street where he used to be a client and now volunteers as a cook.

“We don’t turn anyone away,” said Linda Dumont, board member for The House of Refuge Mission. “It’s necessary to take everyone. People need food and they need to feel accepted.”

Located near the heart of downtown, House of Refuge Mission is a registered charity that survives solely off volunteer efforts and donations. It is one of the only facilities in Edmonton that serves intoxicated people with food, clothing and prayer every night.

“If we don’t serve them then nobody will,” said Calvin Kennedy, volunteer manager and board member. “I’ve been where these guys are and I can relate. Wecan’t turn them away.”

The shelter emphasizes Christian practices to its patrons as a way to bring faith in their lives. Board members wear “many hats” acting as musicians and ministers every evening.

John Pasturs, 52, has lived on the streets for almost two years. He has tents set up around the city as temporary shelters that he calls home.

But beginning at 4 p.m. every day, Pasturs comes to House of Refuge Mission and begins to cook for others like him who have little to no resources.

“I don’t want to let (them) down,” said Pasturs. “If these people, (some intoxicated), couldn’t come here well, they’d pretty much starve.”

Every night, the facility supplies people of the streets with food, clothing and prayer from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Snack is given at 5 p.m. when the doors open and supper usually consists of homemade soup and sandwiches.

Dumont said some of the food is purchased but a majority is donated or supplied by the Food Banks.

On Fridays, a volunteer washes the feet of the homeless and when necessary, care packages with food are sent home with patrons. Volunteer and board member Bill Buck has been with The House of Refuge since 1979 — a path he said was sent to him from God.

“You get to know them all and our volunteers work so hard — Bill is a fixture in this place,” said Dumont. “When some (patrons) don’t show up it’s because we know they’re either dead, in jail or they have found a place to go.”

Just as winter is about to set in, the facility is gearing up for high demand.

“We really need blankets, socks and winter clothing,” said Dumont. “We sometimes give them long women’s coats to help keep them warm because we just don’t have enough blankets.”

There are about five volunteers every night who serve around 50 patrons and it costs $2,000 per month to run. No government funding is provided.

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The House of Refuge Mission is an Christian based independently run Inner-City Gospel Mission located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Our focus is to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ and through our faith provide food and assistance for people who are suffering in many ways.        

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