Start Me Up Niagara operates 2 Temporary Winter Shelters over the harshest months of the year, one in St. Catharines and one in Niagara Falls.
We have a long-standing partnership with the local faith community that offers the Out of the Cold program, a coordinated approach to providing a hot meal to community members who experience poverty and homelessness.
|The Seasonal Emergency Overnight Shelters are the responsibility of Start Me Up Niagara. They are provided at 2 locations, Westminster United Church. Doors open every night from November 1 to May 31, 7:30 p.m. – 7:30 a.m. with 45 beds available in St. Catharines. |
Start Me Up also co-ordinates the program in Niagara Falls at St. Andrews United Church. 25 beds are open for guests every night from November 1 to April 30, 7:30 p.m. – 7:30 a.m.
Overnights are funded by donations, Start Me Up and the Niagara Region.
COVID-19 has impacted everyone. In order to remain open, strict health and safety protocols are in place - screening, handwashing, mandatory masks and social distancing.
Out of the Cold is an across-Canada grassroots, faith-based community response to homelessness during the cold-weather season. Founded in Toronto by Sister Susan Moran in 1987, it welcomes the ‘Stranger’ by providing food and shelter to "all who come."
In 1996, it opened in St. Catharines when a group of parishioners at the Queen Street Baptist Church. The group started a 6-week pilot project on Saturday nights. This soon spread to six other church locations. It was operated by volunteers from churches and community groups who worked together to welcome the "Stranger" providing a hot meal and safe overnight bed. Funded entirely by donations, it relied on the goodwill of the community that never let it down.
As the years passed, the numbers and complexity of issues the guests presented increased. This required changes to the way the program operated. Churches took on the sole responsibility for providing meals, that are still prepared by volunteers, and rely on donations to cover costs. Seven nights, seven churches, many volunteers all working to feed and welcome the ‘Stranger’.
When the churches were no longer able to offer overnight shelter, Start Me Up Niagara assumed operations of the Temporary Winter Shelter at Westminster United Church in St. Catharines. In 2020, we also began operating the shelter at St. Andrew's United Church in Niagara Falls.
The Temporary Winter Shelters operate 7 nights per week, 7:30 pm to 7:30 am, from November 1st to March 31st. Both shelters offer a warm place to sleep out of the harsh winter elements and light snacks, as they are available. Like the Out of the Cold Program, the Temporary Winter Shelters program could not operate without the kindness of volunteer support, experienced staff and gracious donations.
In this 2021-2022 season, Start Me Up Niagara is thrilled again to work in partnership with Out of The Cold to deliver a coordinated approach to providing hot meals and Temporary Winter Shelter to those who are most vulnerable in our communities.