2021 marks Mission Services of London’s (MSL) 70th year of serving our neighbours. As I reflect on our innovation in service delivery, and the tens of thousands of neighbours for whom we have provided tangible assistance, I cannot help but be struck with profound sadness. Sadness that our response to poverty, homelessness, mental illness, and addictions that began in 1951 continues to be needed in 2021 to an even greater extent.
While our response to these issues has evolved, our reason for responding has not shifted. Our ultimate vision of all people being accepted and valued with opportunities to thrive has remained for 70 years.
My sadness is tempered by amazement of how MSL services have adapted over time. I think of how Men’s Mission adapted its length of stay policy from a four-day limit to an “open door policy” allowing men to stay for as long as they need. I think of the pioneering work accomplished at Quintin Warner House making it a leader in the addiction treatment field. I think of the current innovation in serving families in need through our Prevention of Homelessness Among Families program at Rotholme Family Shelter. And I think of the evolution of the Emergency Voucher Program at the Mission Store that began as a clothing closet.
As the feature branch of this newsletter, I also reflect on the pioneering concept of “Resting Spaces” developed by CMHP. Operating from a perspective that client needs are most important, we reduced barriers, engaged with individuals to connect them with vital services, and acted as a gateway to supports. We invested heavily and, with donor support, funded more than 50% of the cost of the program for as long as we could. Today, CMHP continues to offer three invaluable programs that serve our community.
Upon reflection of what MSL has accomplished over 70 years and continues to accomplish today, I also feel profound joy that we–our staff, volunteers, and YOU–continue to make a tremendous impact in addressing poverty, homelessness, and addiction. Assistance is provided and hope is delivered with integrity and diligence, making today a better day than yesterday for our neighbours.
I believe Art Cartier’s words in “From Golden Grain Grows a Mission”, a 1991 book commemorating MSL’s 40 years of service, still ring true today: “Mission Services, unintentionally perhaps, was ‘hiding its light under a bushel’ as far as the general public was concerned, yet at the same time opened its doors to as many of the needy as they could physically and financially give care”.
Mission Services of London, CMHP–diligently serving neighbours and innovating service–loving God, loving others.
Written by Peter Rozeluk, Executive Director