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Downtown drop-in centre celebrates one-year anniversary

Published on

Journal staff

A drop-in centre for adults in Sarnia is expanding its hours in order to reach more residents, as it celebrates one year of operation in the city’s downtown.

The Nightlight Sarnia adult drop-in centre at 181 Christina St. N. (Submitted photo)

“People have been coming like crazy,” said Murray Stephenson, who, along with wife Gwen, are executive directors at Nightlight Sarnia, geared toward the “relationally poor” — namely, those experiencing homelessness, substance abuse, lonely seniors, immigrants new to Sarnia or international students.

“That’s our mission — creating a safe place for people; a sense of community and belonging.”

The centre, located at 181 Christina Street North, currently draws upwards of 20 people every Monday and Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. for coffee, snacks, games, puzzles crafts and camaraderie.

They’ve just added a third day — Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. — and a one-year anniversary celebration was held last week.

Ä crowd gathered last week as Nightlight Sarnia celebrated its one-year anniversary. (Submitted photo)

“We see homelessness, addiction, those receiving OW (Ontario Works), and other social barriers that have kept them kind of excluded,” said Stephenson, a former addictions counsellor. “Many have no family, supports or network… they’re just isolated and lonely.”

Nearly 40 people volunteer at the centre — covering everything from serving coffee to helping some get to appointments and groceries.

Nightlight Sarnia is a branch of Nightlight Canada, which also operates drop-in centres in Belleville, Cambridge and Kingston.

It’s a faith-based, multi-denominational Christian ministry, Stephenson explained, “But we’re not pushing anything,” he said. “It’s more important just to be that listening ear.”

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