Where We Began
For years our founder, Brenda Powling, had been receiving an increase in requests for housing help while working at a local church outreach as an Addiction and Community Service Worker. After a number of instances of being unable to adequately address the needs of individuals seeking assistance in the community, Brenda felt called to pursue alternative options for supporting those experiencing homelessness, especially in the cold winter months.
Countless individuals across Canada are impacted by homelessness each year. There are a number of factors influencing the rate of homelessness in our area; things like lack of affordable housing and transportation and limited community resources for those in need. For a person experiencing homelessness in many parts of South Simcoe, help can seem unattainable. Without access to a local safe place to rest, a person experiencing homelessness will often resort to accepting a situation that can leave them vulnerable to being taken advantage of or victimized. With no program in place, the closest options for available shelter were Barrie, Orangeville, Newmarket, or Toronto.
In early 2017, Brenda approached the leadership of Anchor Point Church, a local church passionate about the community, with her idea for the program and a request to utilize a vacant building they own to operate it in. Anchor Point graciously agreed and along with various other local churches, community groups and the South Simcoe Chapter of the Simcoe County Alliance to End Homelessness (SCATEH), pledged their support for the program.
With the help of some dedicated and passionate individuals, Alliston Out of the Cold became a reality in our community and has been proud to serve those experiencing or on the verge of homelessness and food insecurity throughout New Tecumseth and the surrounding areas since 2017. Our Emergency Overnight Shelter program opened its doors for the first time November 15th, 2017, running 7 days a week, through to April 15th, 2018. With the help of over 250 volunteers, our community came together in various roles to pull together a successful first year. Since then, we have continuously adapted and implemented new programs to meet the growing needs of our community. The support we have received from our community has been nothing short of amazing! What a blessing, that our small but mighty town can pull together with compassion to help those who are struggling to move forward!
Where We Are Now
In early 2019 an enthusiastic team of individuals formed a Board of Directors and registered Alliston Out of the Cold as a non-profit organization and achieved charity registration in June of 2020. In recognition that we are much more than the traditional model of ‘out of the cold’ we set out to find a name for our organization that better reflected what we do in our community. With some input from the community and those we serve, we proudly settled on S.H.I.F.T – Support and Hope for Individuals and Families Today.
Our goal is to support individuals and families in “making a shift” in their circumstances by way of providing consistent trusting relationships, honest communication and promoting participant choice and empowerment. S.H.I.F.T. provides safe, respectful, and welcoming overnight accommodation, meals and supports to those experiencing or at-risk of experiencing homelessness and/or food insecurity in South Simcoe. We are committed to facilitating connection to further services, resources, and community.