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Crisis Centre celebrates 50 year anniversary

'It started as a pilot project, but there was clearly a need. The Crisis Centre is an excellent example of the community coming together for a common good.  This has always been the case'

Crisis Centre North Bay has been caring for residents in crisis for 50 years with residential and non-residential services. 

A recent luncheon was held to recognize Crisis Centre achievements and history.

"In the late 1960s the Pro Cathedral recognized there was an increasing need for services to assist people in crisis," according to the organization's news release."To fill short-term housing gaps, and provide safe lodging, the Continental Hotel was originally used, however, it quickly became evident this was not a cost-effective or long-term solution."

“The church really was the catalyst for Crisis Centre in the early days,” says Executive Director, Susan Rinneard. “It was the vision of church officials and congregants that started it all. They identified a need in the community and stepped up to establish the first location on Main Street.”

In 1970, after months of renovating the first location, a young homeless man of 16 became the first client. He wanted to complete his education and needed lodging while doing so, but he no longer had a home. 

"Some residents sought shelter from abuse, others simply needed one-night accommodation while passing through North Bay, there were people requiring a safe haven from violence, and young people who could no longer live at home," explains the release.

“Creative funding and donations made a huge impact on maintaining services until provincial funding was secured in 1972,” said Rinneard. “Money from service clubs, the Lutheran World Relief Organization and donations from citizens were both needed and appreciated. This was clearly a labour of love and a community effort.”

Crisis Centre Board Chair, Kathleen Hallett said, “It started as a pilot project, but there was clearly a need. The Crisis Centre is an excellent example of the community coming together for a common good.”

In 1971 the pilot project was made permanent and Articles of Incorporation were drawn up.  Provincial and municipal funding followed, augmented by private donations.

The goal of, ‘assisting individuals who are experiencing personal crisis by providing assessment and referral services and short-term accommodation and counselling’, still represents the mission of the Crisis Centre today.

“In 1970 Crisis Centre had one paid staff, 27 volunteers and served 60 residents, by 1974 there were 6 full-time and 2 part-time staffers, 20 volunteers and over 1,200 residents.  In that same time frame, the budget grew from $2,000 to $85,000,” said Hallett.

Today, Crisis Centre is funded by several Ministries.

“From time to time, everyone needs a helping hand." says Rinneard. "Some folks have a positive and supportive network of friends and family, to support them through a crisis. For those that don’t, we are here to help them.  We are not a long-term solution but rather a port in the storm.  People who come here are fed, housed supported and referred to resources and counselling in the community if need be. We support them until their crisis is resolved.” 

Crisis Centre North Bay has now helped thousands of people. 

“It struck me that we are half a century later and still struggling with homelessness," added.Rinneard. "Many communities, especially in the north, are struggling to find housing for people in need.”