Gospel Mission scrambling to find employees to work at new shelter

New shelter may be delayed

The Kelowna Gospel Mission's new shelter at the former BC Tree Fruits packinghouse may not open at the start of October if they can't find staff.

Gospel Mission executive director Carmen Rempel tells Castanet the new shelter opening may have to be delayed because of a lack of qualified employees.

"We're hoping to open the first week of October, a lot of that will be determined on how our job fair goes these next few days."

Rempel says the Gospel Mission is looking to fill 22 positions, all of which are posted online.

"We can always do a staggered start, a soft opening, where we could open to a dozen people and then wait till our staffing increases, and then bring more people inside."

Rempel says the Gospel Mission has to maintain a strict staff-to-client ratio, "so we'll grow as our staff grows. But I'm optimistic and hoping that we will go ahead and open the first week of October just fine."

The shelter was originally supposed to open in September, but renovations for the old warehouse space on Bay Avenue were delayed.

Rempel says the timing of the opening of the shelter is important for those who need the service, but finding staff has been a challenge.

"We're starting up a whole new project in the middle of a labour shortage and we're competing with things like fast food restaurants that are paying, upwards of $20 an hour for people who walk in without any qualifications at all. So it definitely makes it tough."

Despite the challenges, Rempel is hopeful they will find the people they need so the shelter can open sooner rater than later.

"Resiliency, emotional resiliency, our staff are, pretty much perpetually in a state of grief. So we're looking for people who have great emotional intelligence, people with good communication skills, team players, people who are able to make decisions, and not just simple decisions, but complex philosophical decisions," says Rempel.

One thing that is working in Rempel's favour, "we already have the bulk of our staff in place. So a lot of our staff were working at the Doyle Avenue shelter. We were able to retain a good chunk of them. So they've been busy working on our different projects and in different facilities throughout the summer, and they're ready to move over."

Brayden Ursel

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