Despite what some think, Living for Jesus Outreach Ministries never folded.
Unaffordable rent led the organization to move out of its location at 1033 Mississaga St. W. in June 2019, but its founders, Rev. Jim Woolcott and his wife, Pat, and secretary-treasurer Pam Toutant weren’t willing to stop helping those in need. They realized they could continue their outreach without a building.
“I thought, ‘Let’s not just make do like we did at our last location. Let’s be practical and ask, ‘How can we help?’” Toutant recalled.
So, that’s what they did. They set out to help local charities, and they started with Green Haven Shelter for Women.
Every month since October 2020, Living for Jesus has been sending food and needed supplies to the shelter, including baby monitors and toaster ovens. The shelter was in need of shelving, too, so Living for Jesus linked Green Haven with a local contractor who ended up donating his time, while Home Depot donated material for the shelving.
The new Lighthouse has also benefited from the organization’s generosity, having received bedding for the 20 supportive housing units at the new hub on Queen Street.
The list goes on. Money has been donated to the Salvation Army, the Orillia Youth Centre and Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital’s mental health services and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
After being approached by nurses, Living for Jesus also purchased and donated onesies for premature babies in the NICU.
“It’s practical outreach that means something,” Toutant said. “It’s basically what we do and what Jesus does: help those less fortunate.”
When Living for Jesus had a facility, it regularly welcomed people in for meals and to pick up some free clothing. Those services are about to return, on a smaller scale.
Starting Aug. 9, a free clothing room will open in the portable at Alliance Church on Frederick Street, near Memorial Avenue. It will be open every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. until noon.
The church approached Woolcott with the idea of operating the service out of the portable, and it’s an important part of the outreach, Toutant said.
“Some people can’t even afford to go to Value Village,” she said.
At the same time, Living for Jesus will be offering a free lunch program in the Alliance Church basement, serving tea, coffee, juice, sandwiches and dessert.
“It’s a good start to get us back out into the community,” Toutant said, adding Living for Jesus doesn’t need its own building, as a lack of rent and overhead means it can provide more to those in need.
“It doesn’t matter that we’re smaller than we used to be. We’re still here.”
Those who want to donate money or clothing to the organization’s efforts are encouraged to contact Toutant between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday to Saturday, at 705-325-5310 or email [email protected].