"They took me off the streets twice and gave me a place to live and food when needed and that's how Open Arms has helped me - very good group of people"
"I'm so impressed with the work being done by John Andrew and his team. More than once Open Arms has helped my son who is working hard to overcome a 15+ year addiction which resulted in homelessness close to a year ago; however, he now has an apartment. He still faces barriers to employment and a lack of funding. Being able to pick up breads from time to time has been a great help! Thank you Open Arms for all that you do to support our community and more importantly, those less fortunate!"
Open Arms is a community supported registered charity made up of a network of about 300 volunteers from Hantsport to Bridgetown who have connected with us through many different churches, community groups, businesses, schools and more. Initially established in 2004 as a Community Chaplaincy/Advocacy for people in need, we soon began a much needed shelter program to complement our front-line advocacy work. Inn From The Cold now operates from seven local churches with the assistance of Police and many community volunteers. Emergency shelter has been provided for approximately 1200 individuals over the past twelve years. From 2007 to 2015 we only had the resources to operate the emergency shelter from November through April, with motels and transitional housing being used during the warmer months but we resumed year round emergency shelter in 2016. Several years ago it became clear that we needed a permanent and adequate location to serve our guests and participants, so we purchased a building in Kentville. From this 'Resource Centre', we manage our numerous programs in Kentville as well as a Drop-in / Outreach Program in Berwick and Kingston Nova Scotia.
People using the Inn From the Cold program are directed to our drop-in team for assessment and an action plan they help construct and are expected to participate in. They are made aware of our various programs and other relevant services and agencies within the community. Many people who come to us are crushed by the weight of life and are seeking spiritual and emotional helps. It is with a consistent message of hope and an attitude acceptance that we also direct guests and participants down a positive road towards permanent housing, continuing education, employment, participation in addiction & Life Skills programs and ongoing involvement in the Open Arms community. We have created a safe place for others to be themselves and build positive relationships. Our services and relationship building model are complimented by several other agencies and non-profit organizations for whom we provide free office and meeting space. The Kentville location is open mornings and evenings, six days per week (Monday – Saturday), serving hundreds of individuals each month as well as responding to countless other calls for other assistance. It is a place where people can have a fresh start while being provided the basic ingredients for growth and success - warmth, safety food and friendship. Approximately 80 regular volunteers make the programs at the Drop-in Centres possible each week and numerous others regularly host additional meals and events.
Aside from assisting people who find themselves in the unfortunate situation of being on the street, hungry or lonely, we also provide the following programs / supports:
- Community Chaplaincy - Various spiritual programs are available for all who choose to come.
- S.A.F.E. House Program - Developing safe and affordable housing for people in transition. We currently operate three properties with a total of 16 rooms.
- Rural Food Delivery Program To Families in Crisis.
- Apartment Locating / transitional and permanent residence.
- Furniture Bank - Collection, storage and delivery of donated furniture.
- Breakfast Program - Breakfast is available six days each week at the Kentville Outreach with full meals provided Monday, Wednesday & Saturday evenings. The Community Soup Kitchen additionally provides full meals Tuesday & Thursday with Soup prepared, frozen and ready to serve at any time. More than 30,000 meals will be provided this year at Open Arms in Kentville alone and countless bowls of soup provided by Community Soup Kitchen and SOUP.