Mission: Off the Streets Team (MOST) is a program that employs street people to help clean downtown while building life skills that may help participants get a full time job. The new program gives homeless people work experience, skills and confidence. The Mission: Off the Streets Team (MOST) employs homeless people to pick up litter and snow shovel downtown sidewalks.
PROFILE: Troy Grantham - Operator of Nilfisk Street Cleaner, Downtown Clean Team
By Dan Ingalls, Director, Mission: Off the Streets Team
Troy grew up mostly in the North End of Winnipeg. He attended R.B. Russell vocational High school to Grade 11. Quit school in 1982 to start full time employment with Champs, now called KFC. He worked there for four years. After this he held numerous jobs. Troy had a problem with an alcohol addiction that often resulted in his inability to maintain employment. This is something that started in high school and gradually became worse. It wasn't until he was almost 40 years old that he began opening his eyes of the destructive path he was on.
Troy came to Siloam Mission for the first time around 2003. He was living at the McLaren Hotel, one of Siloam Mission's neighbours when we were at the Main Street location. Eventually, Troy moved off Main Street and in with a friend. He slept on his friend's couch as a means to get by, as seasonal work was the only employment he could find and he could not afford an apartment. In the meantime his alcoholism was progressing, as it was an escape from poverty. It came to the point where he could no longer look after things on his own and approached Siloam Mission for help. He was looking for work in the Mission: Off the Streets Team (MOST) program.
Troy joined MOST in November of 2006. It has been a tremendous opportunity and help. As of today he feels so much better about himself, because of the opportunities that Siloam Mission through the MOST program has offered him. Now he is proud to have his first full-time employment opportunity in a long time. As of April 16 of this year, Troy has been working with the Downtown BIZ as a vehicle operator on their Downtown Clean Team. He operates the Nilfisk Street cleaner on a daily basis. Troy has told me he has never been happier in his life. He feels he is unable to express enough gratitude for the help Siloam Mission through the MOST program was able to offer him.
Troy Grantham was one of the first graduates of the MOST program. Through the help of the MOST director and the opportunity obtained through the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, Troy has successfully transitioned to a healthier lifestyle. Through the financial support of others, more stories like this will be a reality.
Excerpt from the BIZword newsletter Winter 2006:
The Mission: Off the Streets Team (MOST) members remove posters, pick up litter and clear snow from sidewalks. To date, they have dedicated over 1,000 hours to downtown, collecting over 360 bags of garbage and shoveling all of downtown's Portage and Graham avenues. The team also participates in special projects, like decorating 96 holiday baskets that are now on display on Portage Avenue.
And downtown visitors, workers and residents-especially seniors-are noticing. Dan Ingalls, Director of Mission: Off the Streets Team with Siloam Mission, says the team has received thanks in the form of a $10 gift certificate for Tim Hortons and free coffee from the owner of Second Cup on Edmonton and Graham.
“It's been really good, with lots of people saying 'thank you'. They really appreciate what we're doing,” says Ingalls. “[MOST members] really appreciate it. They have a lot of pride in the work that they do. It's nice looking back and seeing the tangible things they've done.”
Ingalls adds there are a lot of positives beyond just clearing snow. He says the change in the participants' lives is noticeable.
“It's the kind of change in doing something that you have pride in and you've accomplished. It just makes a difference in their self-worth,” he says. “The group's been really close, tight knit, working together. There's a hope that hasn't been there for a while; a hope that things can change.”
The supervised temporary employment provides willing individuals with practical skills and work experience to ultimately transition them from the street into a healthier environment, which may include a permanent part- or full-time job. The program will also improve the city in terms of safety and cleanliness.
“This is an ideal partnership. Working together, we hope to see positive change in the participants' lives as well as in our downtown,” says Stefano Grande, Downtown BIZ executive director.
Siloam Mission manages the overall program and provides social support and meals to those employed in the program. The BIZ provides seed funding and work projects.
“We want to help people move into healthier lifestyles, and with the BIZ's support, we can make a difference,” says John Mohan, Siloam Mission executive director.
The program takes a more holistic approach than similar programs in Kenora and Baltimore because it's a partnership with an agency that provides social support. The BIZ is also committed to hiring the “graduates” of the program and connecting them with our business community who are looking for entry-level workers. The program ties into Siloam Mission's mandate to help transition people into a healthier lifestyle.
As a Christian humanitarian agency, Siloam Mission is a connecting point between the compassionate and Winnipeg’s less fortunate. Siloam Mission alleviates the hardships of poverty and homelessness as Mission staff, volunteers and donors provide free meals, shelter, clothing and support services. Every day, Siloam Mission is visited by 400 - 500 homeless people.
The Mission assists in transitioning homeless and disadvantaged people to more self-sufficient and healthier lifestyles by providing referral services, life-skill development, education upgrading and employment training opportunities. For more information, visit www.siloam.ca