'It's exciting to finally be home': Carmichael Outreach moves into new building

Carmichael Outreach had to wait for its new building. 

The Regina organization had been in temporary homes since early 2018. One of the main issues was funding, said Rochelle Berenyi, Carmichael's communications, advocacy and projects officer.

"We do really desperately still need funds to support this project," she said. "The majority of what we've been able to do so far has been based on a construction mortgage."

Berenyi said the organization has some sponsors and has plans for a donor monument wall in their new building. 

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Getting permits from the city was complicated, she said, and they frequently had to rejig the project. The organization was able to begin construction in June 2019. After hitting "unexpected surprises," the organization hopes to open on Dec. 9 at 1510 12th Avenue in Regina.

It was worth it, Berenyi said. Now Carmichael has 7000 square feet of space — double its old building. It is wheelchair accessible has a laundry room and showers, a healing room, a larger boutique, a full-sized commercial kitchen and a space to serve meals indoors. 

"In the past, our old building, we would have to serve meals through the back door of our kitchen," Berenyi said. "It's not exactly empowering or dignifying to make people stand outside in the cold to wait for the meal so now ... People can grab their food sit down and have a bite to eat."

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The larger space also leads to a healthier environment, Berenyi said. 

"We saw once we were in a bigger space, a lot less altercations, fights," she said. "They had their personal space in their bubbles and everyone was a little bit more comfortable and calm."

It means a lot to finally see people moving into the new place, Berenyi said. She started working at the organization about two months after they purchased it. 

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"My entire life at Carmichael has been working toward getting into this," she said. "It's so exciting to be able to actually have a home."

The organization provides services aimed at those experiencing or at risk of homelessness. It offers meal programming, clothing and household goods, recreational activities, hygiene products and pet food, and relies on grants and fundraising to operate.

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Jordan Tholl was one of the dozen volunteering to help move items into the new space. He hopes the space is welcoming. 

"Having that sense of support, somebody standing there with you at a time of your life you could feel so alone ... that does a lot more than people even account for," he said. 

Tholl said he hopes it's a place where people can pick up their lives and work toward their goals and who they want to become. 

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In the future, the building will have an on-site nurse, a needle exchange programs, and nutrition and cooking classes, Berenyi said. 

"There's so many things that we wanted to be able to do that we've just been waiting for," she said. "It's exciting to finally be home."