By Anna Guy
Since 1990, Souls Harbour Rescue Mission (previously Souls Harbour Mission House and Regina Rescue Mission) has provided a safe space and a nice meal for those in need.
Original founder Gerri Carroll’s incredible self-reliance enabled her to help up to 60 people a day from her own basement. In 1999, another couple, Ken and Michelle Porter, purchased a derelict building in Regina and turned it into a long-term recovery program and in 2007, these two missions merged and became Souls Harbour Rescue Mission, a vital organization for the Regina community. In its over 28 years, SHRM has served well over 2,000,000 meals, given away more than 500,000 pieces of clothing and provided in excess of 55,000 nights of emergency shelter.
As a not-for-profit, Souls Harbour has had to move several times as their locations became too small or no longer usable; and now, its current building is no longer fulfilling the needs of SHRM and is in need of more repair than economically viable. Thus the genesis of the Samaritan Project: a plan to build a 27,000 square foot facility that will house Soul Harbour’s meal program, clothing program, men’s emergency shelter, a second daycare, and 17 more low-income suites. The Samaritan Project will not only meet the ever-increasing need for the services and supports offered by the Souls Harbour Rescue Mission, but it will also create a community of care and connection for the tenants.
Michael Towers is the Director of Programs at Souls Harbour Rescue Mission. Towers explains that in keeping with SHRM’s endeavour to make the most of its locations, developing a “sustainable model that embraces and invites stewardship at every level…and to be all about reclamation and care at every level.”
Low Operating and Maintenance Costs
Vast environmental considerations were made in the building’s design, the advantages of which include significant reduction of the building’s overall operating costs. For instance, the Samaritan Project is being built to a passive standard, which means an extra insulated and air-tight building envelope (R40 in the walls and R80 in the roof). “The building has no boiler system—typical in commercial buildings—and is heated through four residential sized furnaces utilizing a large air-handler system,” says Towers. “The building will have LED circuit boards for its lights and in every little detail equipment is minimised in its mechanical function with a balance against long term maintenance and operational costs.”
A very large cold storage room located in the basement will allow the team to safely store donated harvest vegetables in the fall and preserve them throughout the winter in into next spring. “This room contains a manual damper that we will crank open in the fall in order to cool the room down to an estimated 5 degrees without impacting the rest of the building,” says Towers. “We then will crank it closed after we have used up the vegetables by spring, therefore removing any need for mechanical systems to cool the space. Another example is installing a heat-recovery system on the shower drains used for our emergency shelter so the amount of energy required to heat the water for those showers are dramatically reduced.”
“It is important to note that this project has been verified in that we are constructing it for the same cost as a conventional build,” says Towers. “Our return on investment is immediate because we have worked very hard during the planning stage to make sure that our costs were the same as a conventional build. The only exception is the 30kw solar array being installed on the roof, which has a return oninvestment of just under 10 years.”
With virtually no maintenance costs involved, SHRM can confidently estimate that this building will yield a 70 per cent reduction in overall maintenance and operational costs versus a conventional build. In other words, for every dollar donated, SHRM can spend 70 per cent more on direct programming.
“We believe that our stewardship with our donor’s money is what will set us apart from other non-profits simply because we have built this passive building,” says Towers. “The public wants to know and have assurance that their money is being used for something other than replacing yet another pump on a boiler system or to pay a high power bill. They want to know that their money is feeding even more people. We now can guarantee that.”
Meet More Needs
The new building will double SHRM’s men’s shelter capacity to 24 men and augment the meal program from 200 people a day to 300 people a day, thanks in part to community partners like Mack Sun Solar Corporation, Bright Water Senior Living, Rotary Club of Regina, Westridge Construction Ltd, LS Security Systems, Loraas Disposal, Cindercrete Products Ltd., Sherwood Co-op, and The Mosiac Company. Towers says the community outreach has been instrumental in the Samaritan Project, as have donations from the public, municipal grants, and provincial funding in partnership with the Federal government. “Souls Harbour Rescue Mission has been making an incredible difference in our community for nearly 30 years. Supportive housing is an area of continual need in Regina, Samaritan Place will be a life-changing development for those in need of supportive programming,” says Michael Fougere, Mayor of Regina.
For Towers and the SHRM community, the Samaritan Project will enable them to continue to provide life-changing support to the Regina community. The Samaritan Project will help SHRM to continue providing stable living to those in need; to find employment, purchase a bed and perhaps another change of clothes. “That process could take a few years but to watch that transformation in their lives has impacted my life forever,” says Towers.
Being involved in every area of our organisation makes it difficult for Towers to pinpoint just one instance of pride involving community members who have used SHRM programs. “My heart is so encouraged when we have a woman come into our addiction program, completely broken… reunited with her children and graduate the program,” he offers. “What bigger success story can you get? A life redeemed. A child reunited with their mother. That is hard to top.”
In order to learn more about the Samaritan Project, and to donate, please visit