Mustard Seed runs a 46-bed sober shelter, soup kitchen and health centre in Riverside Meadows. (By SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

Mustard Seed runs a 46-bed sober shelter, soup kitchen and health centre in Riverside Meadows. (By SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

Red Deer shelters see demand for service reach capacity

Mustard Seed and Safe Harbour Society prepare for summer heat

Red Deer’s homeless shelters have been reaching capacity limits in recent weeks.

Laura Giesbrecht, managing director of The Mustard Seed, said last week the 46 beds were full in the charity’s overnight shelter for sober clients.

“For the first time in a long time we reached our capacity in the shelter because of the rain,” Giesbrecht said.

Some clients would usually be camping if it wasn’t for the rain, she said.

Colleen Markus, shelter services manager at Safe Harbour Society, said client numbers at the 24-hour shelter for people who are intoxicated or under the influence, have also been regularly hitting capacity.

“We’ve really increased our numbers. We’re hitting 100 people almost every night,” said Markus, who didn’t know if it was strictly weather-related.

“Over the last two or three months, we’ve seen it gradually increasing,” she said about the shelter located in the former Cannery Row Bingo building.


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Both organizations are looking for donations of new socks and underwear to help out their clients.

“When your feet get wet and cold, there’s nothing like putting on a pair of clean, dry socks, same with underwear,” Giesbrecht said.

Dollar store rain ponchos also come in handy, she added.

Markus said sweaters, hoodies, leggings, pants (mens size 32 to 36), and large and extra-large t-shirts would be welcome.

“With the rain, we’ve been going through so much clothing. We just can’t seem to keep enough in stock,” Markus said.

Donations of single-size, light fleece blankets would also be useful, along with instant noodle soup cups, she said.

“If someone is sick, or if someone just can’t leave the shelter, it’s nice to have a stock of those cups of noodles. They just work really well because we don’t really have a kitchen area. It just warms them up.

“We appreciate it takes a community to provide that support, and we appreciate any help we can get from the community,” Markus said.


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The shelters also need bottled water for when the temperatures start to rise and extreme heat poses a danger without sufficient hydration.

“We’re in desperate need of bottled water. A lot of people come to our door looking for food and beverages,” Giesbrecht said.

Sunscreen, bug spray, flip flops, reusable water bottles, hats and other protective clothing will also be needed, she said.

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