Kelowna’s Gospel Mission courtyard is officially open for use.
Leon Avenue has often been cluttered with the personal belongings of those served by the Gospel Mission – causing complaints about the eyesore.
Randy Benson with the Gospel Mission says there was no place for clients to wait for services outside except the sidewalk, but that has changed.
“This is a welcoming space; we want people to feel like they’re appreciated,” he said. “We have staff here so we want people who are out here to be able to engage with our staff. They can find out what services are available or if they don’t have a caseworker.”
Benson says the same rules that apply in the Gospel Mission exist in the courtyard.
“When you're in the courtyard, it’s the same as being in the building. The same policy, regulations and expectations. There is no drug use or foul language.
And as people get to know that they recognize there is really no difference between the two.”
Chris is one of the Gospel Mission’s clients who has been using the courtyard space.
He says staff allow him to woodwork in the space, a favourite pastime of his.
“I am very lucky to be here. I like the environment and it keeps my mind off of things. It is a safe place and drug-free zone. I really enjoy it,” said Chris.
Between 50 to 60 people have been enjoying the courtyard every day since the soft opening two months ago.
The cost of the courtyard, including an outdoor 12 unit storage space, is just over $100 000 with donations and sponsorship.