In the community

Ontario nonprofit secures grant to help homeless

These tiny homes, are part of a project in Ontario to help area homeless and is next to Origins Faith Community Outreach Initiative at 312 N.W. 2nd Street. The initiative recently received a sizeable grant to help the homeless population . (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell).

ONTARIO – A $50,000 state grant will help a local nonprofit link a growing local homeless population to medical and mental health resources.

The Origins Faith Community Outreach Initiative received the money last month.

Origins Faith Community Outreach at 312 N.W. 2nd Street in Ontario operates a day shelter in Ontario and furnishes free meals five days a week for those in need. The organization also manages a thrift store – The Bridge Renewed – in Ontario and oversees the tiny home project for the homeless during the winter.

Origins Faith also offers counseling services, addiction counseling and peer mentors.

The nonprofit recently hired a peer support specialist with the grant money, said executive director Ken Rush. The new employee will work at the thrift store and at the meal site on 2nd Street, said Rush.

The specialist’s task is to help homeless and others facing housing or health challenges find services.

The need for a new peer support specialist was acute because the number of homeless continues to increase as does the type of people seeking services, according to Rush.

“This isn’t the standard homeless people we see every day,” he said.

Rush said more middle-class families and individuals who lost jobs during the Covid pandemic seek services now.

“It is surprising the change in clientele we are seeing,” he said.

Dana Rush, the director of operations for Origins, said the clientele often consists of “people who have lost jobs, lost homes…They are struggling and they are coming for services.”

Many people, though, do not know how to get the services they need, said Ken Rush.

“There are so many folks struggling right now,” he said.

Clients often find it difficult to ask for any kind of help, no matter how dire their individual situation may be, he said.

“It is just humiliating for them to have to go ask. It is not what they are used to doing,” said Ken Rush.

Dana Rush said Origins wants to provide a bridge between an individual in need and a host of state and local services.

“We want to meet people with compassion. We are not here to judge or add to any shame,” said Dana Rush.

Ken Rush said the Origins Faith initiative is separate from Origins Faith Community Church.

“We are not a faith-based program, although we can move people toward that if they want,” said Ken Rush.

To find out more or to seek assistance, people can contact Origins Faith Community Outreach Initiative at 541-889-6411.

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