Jewish Family Services established its StreetSmarts outreach to the homeless twenty years, in 2001, thanks to the initiative of Pete Cassidy, who at the time was a recovering addict and a passionate member of the community. The programme’s volunteers journey through the streets of downtown Ottawa, handing out refreshments, toiletries, emergency clothing and sleeping bags. But the programme’s services don’t end there. “Advocacy for those who are often hidden from society is achieved through informing clients about their rights and community resources as well as delivering community talks, and inviting members of the community who can effect change out with us along for outreach walks,” the programme notes on its Facebook page. “The program’s mission has always been to provide support and build long lasting quality relationships rather than only surface level help,” they add.
This fall, just as apple picking season went into full swing, StreetSmarts was contacted by a local Ottawa resident who happens to have a lush apple tree on her property. Estelle’s harvest of apples is more than she needs, so she decided to donate a bunch to StreetSmarts, as well as to the Ottawa Mission. It served as a reminder that there are many donated items that StreetSmarts can put to good use. Members of the broader community are invited to contact the organization if they have items to donate.