Staff Perspective: A Night to Remember

A few weeks ago I was walking home from work when something very memorable happened. It was a crisp evening with the streets bustling with people caught up in conversation, running to buses and enjoying the Christmassy atmosphere in the city.

As I was walking down the street I saw one of our street friends was sitting along the side walk pan handling.

Let me give you a little background on my friend Darren. He is currently facing some hard times as someone very close to him suffering with cancer. He has been struggling to stay positive but still seems so strong. He, of course, has had hard days but through it all remains aware of the fact that “God never allows us to go through anything we can’t handle.” (His words.)

Darren will often come by our office and ask the staff here at OIM to pray for him during this hard time. So, while we were chatting on the street last Wednesday he said to me “Can I pray a prayer of thank you over you for all you have done for me?”

I was so honoured that he would want to do this for me. One of our street friends, is asking to pray a prayer of thanksgiving over me! I happily accepted his offer and he started to pray.

It was one of the greatest prayers I have heard! This young man was repeating scripture, praying with passion and a desperation that many of us lack. It was easy to see he was praying with a truly sincere and grateful heart.

It was one of those moments that leave you thinking, “This is why I do what I do.” I was so overwhelmed by this beautiful moment. Someone who was in such pain but despite it all still knows that there are people who care about him so much, and a God who is watching over him. Darren often says that the only prayer God ever answered for him was to give him the strength to handle the challenges he faces.

It was one of those moments where you realize what true gratefulness looks like; it was a night to be remembered, and never forgotten.



~OIM Staff

“Tessa’s Home” Episode 5: The Birth of Hope

Tessa’s Home is an 8 part series running until December 27th.  To listen to the audio backgrounder on CHRI radio, click below. Miss previous episodes? Click “Recent Posts” on the right sidebar.

Please help us tell Tessa’s story through your social media connections, Facebook and Twitter. Comments welcome! #TessasHome


Tessa continues her story…

I got into housing right after, but my place wasn’t that great. It was my ‘place’, but it wasn’t my home – I’d been in and out of ‘places’ of several kinds, but it was never home.   It was between two drug dealers; one sold cocaine and guns, and the other marijuana and cocaine.  That wasn’t the place I wanted my kid, and I didn’t feel like I wanted to be there, so I gave up my son to CAS and I went back to the streets. It was the hardest thing I ever did.

I remember being really distraught, and I was downtown in front of McDonalds on Rideau, and Outreach was there.  Two outreach workers from OIM came by and I was drawing in a little sketch book.  “You like to do art?” “Yea, I love to do art.” “We just started up an art group two weeks ago.” “Oh really?”

In the weeks to come, the same outreach worker was always bugging me about coming, but I never did. I guess when somebody tells you about something, you get this picture inside your head of what it’s like, and it wasn’t like that at all. 

So one day he came by ( and I don’t even think it was an outreach night) and said, “You coming? It’s tonight.”  I said, “OK, fine! I’ll come.” And he came and met me and I went.

I loved it.

After they introduced me to what it was, and told me about the mentoring and said they could help me with goals that I had, I thought maybe this could be helpful (and in my mind, thinking, ‘for now’). 

So like, I’ve been going there for three years, and I have missed like, four nights.

Getting this positive reaction for something I did, was not something I often got… Going through school, I had this art teacher that told me that I just didn’t have it (to be an artist). 

In the Passion 4 Youth art group I made goals to do stuff, and it eventually led me to getting my son back.  I set goals with Malley (my mentor) and she would ask me, ‘What are we working on this week?’ and ‘How’s the fight for your son going?’ and ‘What are your goals towards that?’  After working on that for a pretty long time, I got my son back, and brought him to the art room.  Everyone was really happy about that.

As Christmas approaches, please consider making a donation to help us with our Street Outreach Program.  Please click ‘Donate Now’.  Merry Christmas and thank you.


A Big Thank-You for a Wonderful Evening

Everyone here at Ottawa Innercity Ministries, staff, volunteers and street-friends, would like to thank our supporters for coming out to our big event last Friday night. Ballet Magnificat!, premiere North American Christian ballet company, performed its two critically acclaimed pieces: The Arrival and Deliver Us.

The event was an astounding success, with seats filled and the dancers at their best. It was an evening of art and worship.

Proceeds from the event are going towards our ministries, and we would like to especially thank those who made additional contributions throughout the evening.

Our 25th anniversary year is almost done, with the approach of a new year only a few months away. We thank all of those who have continued to support us both with their time, donations, and prayers.

As we celebrate 25 years this year we are celebrating not only a great ministry but the 25 years that we have been privileged to serve the poor. Ottawa Innercity Ministries (OIM) was established in 1988 after Rev. Susan Brandt and Katrine Coward answered God’s call to leave their jobs and bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the streets.  Years later, in 2003, Rev. Ken MacLaren assumed the duties of Executive Director and has been faithful leading our mission ever since. While street outreach remains the largest component of OIM’s work today, other ministries include our weekly drop-in, office ‘stop-in’ services, a dynamic youth art program, work skills development as well as advocacy and referrals.

Here at Ottawa Innercity Ministries we believe in giving hope to people who feel that there is none left. Whether on the streets, at our office, or at our drop-in, we offer individualized support and care to those who are feeling lonely and isolated, young and old, and who are just struggling to get by. Our many volunteers help us put our vision into action on a daily basis in order to reach out to all those who call the streets their home.

We would like to thank the Ballet Magnificat company Alpha who made Friday evening the spectacular event it was. As well, thank yous to CHRI Radio for promoting our event throughout the city, Salem Storehouse book store for their efforts getting tickets sold, Swiss Chalet for their in-kind donations, and Woodvale Pentecostal Church for their assistance as a great host.

How We Manage

“I figured out where all the Food Banks are, so I go there first. Then I can figure out what I need and go get it at the Dollar Store. Then I go to Bulk Barn and get some candy.”

We had been discussing minimum wage, and volunteers and youth alike had bad jobs to talk about. Minimum wage hasn’t always been over $10, so we swapped stories about $7 jobs and under-the-table work we had been paid to do by uncles and friends. As much as it was a discussion about money it was a discussion about priorities and value.

What do I want?

What do I need?

Can I live on this?

One of the youth was sharing their experience as a clerk in a retail store. They explained how they had been taught to balance the books at the end of the night, figure out which cash was short, and count-out the safe before heading home. They were very proud of everything they had learned, and looked forward to eventually becoming a key-holder. Key-holders get paid $0.40 extra, which, as they pointed out, is a lot of money. We did some quick calculations and figured out that they would be able to buy milk more often, and other things like hot dogs.

$0.40 x 25 hours of part time = an extra $10 a week

That’s an extra $40 a month or $480 a year

When I was younger I didn’t think $10 was very much, but now I live on my own I realize just how much you can buy with $10 if you spend it wisely. Now I am always learning ways to make that little bit go just a bit farther, and some of the best teachers I have are my street-friends from OIM.

I am continually impressed with the ingenuity and thriftiness of our street-friends. Many of our street-friends may struggle with delayed gratification and addictions, but each individual is trying their hardest to make their money go its farthest.

More than anything it is a discussion about value. I had a young man explain to me what he needs to do to visit his family—how long he needs to pan-handle, where he needs to do it, and what his average earnings would be. He then explained how long that money would last, where he would need to go next to make more, and exactly what he was using it for. He didn’t need a spread sheet to understand what he had, what he needed and what he could get—he was keenly aware of his financial situation, his priorities and the value of money.

These kinds of interactions make me question my own priorities and values, and my understanding of finances. I pray we can grow a culture of stewardship focused on understanding and questioning these two ideas, living determined to understand our financial situation and not to be overwhelmed. It feels as though ‘managing’ life seems to be less about having much as much as understanding what you have.



By Selina

OIM Staff

Extra, Extra…Read all about it!

If you haven’t already heard our Youth Outreach Worker was featured recently in a piece by a local journal.

The Ottawa Anglican Journal, CrossTalk, featured our Outrrach Worker Moira Davis in this month’s issue. You can read the piece on our Facebook Page or in the online version of the journal.

Here is a teaser to wet your whistle….


Moira Profile Photo 2013

If you came across her on the street, you probably wouldn’t notice Moira Davis. She can easily blend into the crowded sidewalks, or be seen whizzing by on her bike. That is, you probably wouldn’t notice Moira if you saw her as she goes about her day off the clock, but the four times a week she is on the streets working you couldn’t miss her in that bright red vest. …