Local society ramping up community outreach programs

A local society is stepping up efforts to address homelessness and poverty issues in Cranbrook.

The Ekklesia Millennium Society has spent the last three years developing process and procedure for outreach programs such as providing meals and housing, along with a myriad of other services, for people who need a helping hand.

Now, it is time to raise the organization’s profile, said founder Kelley Poirier.

“The money is what we really need now,” said Poirier.

He said there is a small base of local donor support, but no funding from government sources. Every dollar is diligently tracked and a sophisticated database has been developed to monitor finances, service calls, meals, rides and all facets of the society’s operations.

In addition to finances, the society is looking for support identifying and working out of an industrial kitchen or even a mobile operation, such as a converted food truck.

Vehicles are also a need, as the society has an existing fleet of 13 vehicles but some are well used and have high kilometres.

Operations are currently being run out of a building in the on Industrial Rd. F, but Poirier is on the hunt for something larger to house a growing operation.

The society is currently run by two paid staff and 30 daily volunteers, which grows to an additional 50-100 people in the summer months.

Poirier, whose family has longtime roots in Kimberley, launched the society in 2007 and gained non-profit status two years later.

It’s a cause close to his heart, as he experienced homelessness himself for three years while living in Calgary.

Poirier has established and run clothing and food banks in Alberta in his early 20s, working with local farmers to distribute food all the while holding down a full-time job and going to school.

After founding the Ekklesia Millennium Society 13 years ago in Cranbrook out of a cinder block house that had a wood stove for heating, Poirier began to pull together people and resources necessary to help people in need.

The society grew its capacity enough to take on an office building in 2016, but took three years to develop programming, training and building a reputation within the community.

That effort led to the development of four major programs for the society — One Ladle at a Time, On the Rock Refuge Centre, Shuttle Services and Meals on Heels.

The society prides itself on their meal programs.

One Ladle at a Time serves three hot meals a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year, according to Poirier. That tallied up to 17,000 meals in 2017, 25,000 in 2018, and he is projecting up to 36,000 in total this year.

Another food program, Meals on Heels, is an outreach program that delivers meals to doorsteps for those who are unable to leave their homes for whatever reason. For a subscription-based service, meals can also be delivered to homes for those who are able to leave their homes but want monthly meal deliveries.

The Meals on Heels program has served 12,000 meals as of this past October.

On the Rock Refuge offers homelessness services through a network of 29 beds throughout the city, however, Poirier is in the process of looking for a larger building to increase service capacity.

The Shuttle Service is also extremely active, growing from 15,000 rides in 2017 to a projected 63,700 rides by the end of this year.

Anyone interested in learning more about the society can contact the society at 1-778-517-5800 or visit the office at 217 Industiral Rd. F.

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