The Caring Place exists to help care for anyone in the community, according to its director Darrell Pilgrim.
That might include someone who has a flat tire in the middle of the night in front of their facility, or a Maple Ridge senior who has no place to live.
"Our ultimate goal is to be here to care for everybody," Pilgrim said.
Of the 600 individuals who use the Caring Place's services every month, there are increasing numbers of seniors, Pilgrim said, but also many women, children, and families come to get a hot meal at the facility on 222nd Street and Lougheed Highway.
However, the shelter aspect of the Caring Place, a Salvation Army facility, "is a small, small portion of what we do," Pilgrim pointed out.
Currently, there are 25 emergency shelter beds at the Caring Place, and 15 cold, wet-weather beds will be opened up for the winter season.
This number is down from 30, Pilgrim said, because the number of people seeking shelter on cold nights is down.
That equates to a maximum of about 50 people who need shelter in the night - about 10 per cent of the people they serve.
Pilgrim said he hopes that people will look at homelessness and poverty as a bigger issue.
"It's not just a simple Maple Ridge problem," Pilgrim said. "It's a western world problem."
The Caring Place's focus in Maple Ridge is "to serve people with poverty, mental health, and addictions [issues]," Pilgrim said.
This week is Homelessness Action Week, and several events have been organized in Maple Ridge including a Maple Ridge Has Talent event scheduled for last night at the Caring Place.
The week culminates with a spa day at the Caring Place today (Thursday) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and a community chili lunch at The ACT, put on by Golden Ears FEAST (Food Education and Strategy Table).
As part of the week's activities, 11 agencies were at the Caring Place on Tuesday afternoon including Alouette Home Start Society, which recently opened a 45-bed transitional home on Brown Avenue, Fraser Health, whose nurses were giving out flu shots, and the Community Education on Environment and Development (CEED Centre).
Connie McGonigal, family and community advocate with the Salvation Army's Caring Place Ministries, who helped organize the event, said she hopes the face-to-face contact with their clientele will help start conversations, build trust, and make connections between those who use the Caring Place and service providers.
McGonigal said she also hoped that the service agencies would see what happens during lunchtime at the Caring Place and who their clientele consists of.
Mike Emery, manager of the shelter at the Caring Place Ministries, said he would like to see more "understanding and acceptance" of homeless people, pointing out that homelessness is a community issue and "it's up to the community to address this concern."
Emery would like the community to better understand the causes that lead to homelessness, which he said are addictions, mental health, and a lack of affordable housing.
He pointed out that many people, if faced with one of these problems, might end up homeless, as well.
"None of us are exempt from it," Emery said.
@ Copyright 2013