Will Jackson cleans the outside of the Haven in the Hollow/Mission Food Centre building Sept. 19.

Walls scrubbed, garbage collected during Haven in the Hollow block party

First-stage housing residents and volunteers stepped up to clean up Sept. 19.

A neighbourhood clean-up last Wednesday at Haven in the Hollow allowed some of the community’s more vulnerable residents to give back to Mission.

Organized by Mission Community Services Society, some of the first-stage housing facility’s citizens broke out the mops, scrub brushes and garbage bags to tidy up the area around the Logan Avenue shelter.

Haven in the Hollow is a “low barrier shelter,” according to Franklyn Currie, program coordinator/ “We help those most in need.”

Those who have had trouble with substance abuse and mental health disorders and were previously homeless can find a stable place to live for up to a year, regular meals, and they can access programs to help them heal.

Case planning, explained Currie, aids workers in hearing what the person’s story is and how they can help “break the cycle of addiction and homelessness.”

Most people stay between 30 and 60 days, and if successful, migrate up to Rivendell, a second-stage housing site on Grand Street, or move into their own apartments.

Currie said there is a “pretty regimented policy for staying here,” and those who refuse to respect the neighbouring businesses and residents are asked to leave. No loitering is permitted and a 10 p.m. curfew is in effect.

But those who need assistance aren’t always living on the street.

The Mission Food Centre is in the same building as Haven in the Hollow, and coordinator Phil Hope said they are open Monday to Friday, and people are permitted to come three days a week for food hampers.

The hampers’ contents vary, but generally include two tins of canned vegetables, two tins of fruit, pork and beans, soup, margarine, some bread, and canned tuna or salmon, he said.

Additionally, food centre users are able to come through once a month and purchase a shopping hamper, where people can choose from a variety of food items for about 20 cents each, said Hope.

Ferndale Institution also helps fill food bank shelves with weekly donations of fresh produce — cabbage, carrots, squash, etc. — harvested from the prison’s on-site farm.

Hope noted the centre works with most Mission businesses, churches and service groups to provide more than 770 special Christmas food and gift hampers in December to local families in need.

Approximately 9,200 people were helped in 2011, while another 7,500 received bread and bakery items. In July and August, just over 300 hampers were handed out each month.

If you are interested in volunteering, please call 604-814-3333, or visit missionfoodcentre.com.