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The Power of the Red Vest

“O. I. M.” “O. I. M” is the chant by six street friends (using their arms to mimic the letters) as the Ottawa Innercity Ministries Street Outreach team approaches their corner. This is just one of the many ways our OIM volunteers, wearing their red vests, are shown respect by the people we serve.

Every night, our front-line volunteers, clad in these iconic red vests, bring food and companionship to those who are on the street trying to survive another winter. The red vest signifies to our friends that they will be treated with dignity, receive care without judgement, and that OIM volunteers can be trusted.

Unfortunately, our friends’ needs have grown exponentially. Last year our Street Outreach volunteers were connecting with up to 60 people per night. This year the connections can be as high as 160 in one night. Our volunteers recount how desperate and dire the situation has become. Fortunately, the red vests signify hope in the darkness of despair.

Our friends are streetwise but incredibly vulnerable, living in desperate circumstances, and in addition many have substance abuse issues. However, OIM volunteers have earned their respect by demonstrating concern and a willingness to provide much needed support.

Regrettably, red vest volunteers are seeing a massive shift in hunger this year. Whereas in the past people they encountered would put the food away for later, this year they are now taking the food OIM provides and eating it immediately.

Because of your support, we are finding ways to help these cold, hungry, lonely adults, veterans, and youth find warmth, food, and connections. Our resolute red vest volunteers are spreading joy, peace, and love at this holiday season.

I want to personally thank all of you for investing in the vest. By partnering with us you have helped us meet this growing need. May you and your family find love, joy, and peace in this holiday season.

If you wish to give another gift you may do so here.

~Cam – Manager of Fundraising

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