Main Street Project helps those in need

By Hiatt Abendschoen

From June 27 to July 3, mid-day temperature highs in Winnipeg averaged over 31 C with the humidex often hitting a sweltering 40 C.

On Monday July 6, it was 31 C with a humidex of 39 C. Dwayne Williams, 40, sat in the shade outside Augustine United Church on River Avenue. He said he has lived in Osborne Village his whole life and has been homeless the last nine years.

“[The heat] makes everything tougher for us. You don’t have any energy, sometimes you pass out ‘cause of it… People are more angry and violent,” Williams said. 

In anticipation of the extreme summer heat, Main Street Project ran a bottled water drive to collect 20,000 bottles from Monday, June 22 to Friday, June 26.

Paige Chadsey, 26, took to social media and collected over 2,600 bottles for donation – over 10 per cent of the 25,000 collected in total.

Paige Chadsey went to Instagram to amass over 2,600 water bottles to donate to Main Street Project over a four day period./PAIGE CHADSEY

“A lot of people said they appreciated being able to give a tangible item rather than just donating financially,” Chadsey said. “[Bottled water] is an easy thing for people to donate, and easy for me to facilitate with some extra time on my hands these days.”

Chadsey, an accountant at FWS Group of Companies, raised $24,000 through FWS employee participation in November-December 2019.

It was her first time campaigning for MSP and she said she hoped to volunteer at MSP in the spring, but COVID-19 caused MSP’s volunteer program to shut down.

Ana Ziprick, Director of Development at MSP, said the volunteer program is rolling again as restrictions ease in Manitoba.

“On a good day, we’ll have 200 volunteers,” Ziprick said.

With fast-tracked federal funding and a temporary building donation from Dennis Levy, owner of Levy’s Leathers, Ziprick explained MSP was able to pivot and accommodate their clients while maintaining physical distance.

Main Street Project has a low-barrier intake, meaning they have little to no restrictions on who they welcome in their shelter.

“The old Levy’s Leather factory at 190 Disraeli had been on the market…but [Levy] called us and said we could use it until the pandemic passed,” Ziprick said.

The 76,000 square-foot building has given MSP the capacity needed to not turn away a single person through May and June.

“[Levy] was a part of the community for over 40 years,” Ziprick said of the former Winnipegger. “He respects the people that live in this part of town.”

Ziprick explained many of the surrounding shelters closed when COVID-19 hit, and a lot of people experiencing homelessness are now directed to MSP. Their shelters are open 24 hours a day and are air-conditioned.

“We sleep about 360 people a night.”

Fabian Twohearts, Deidra, and Dwayne Williams sit on shaded steps in front of Saint Augustine Church in Osborne Village. They’ve just had lunch provided to them by Oak Table at the church./HIATT ABENDSCHOEN

Williams said he has stayed at MSP in the past but prefers the culture and community in Osborne Village.

“It’s tough with the bugs and the heat, but I love the old buildings, and my family is here,” he said pointing to a group huddled in another patch of shade.

Ziprick said MSP has amped up their peer outreach support team. The team will respond to ‘man-down’ scenarios when emergency services aren’t necessary or available. They anticipate a higher number of calls during extreme weather conditions.

Ziprick commended Red River College’s proactive aid response when the pandemic first hit. To see RRC’s donations to MSP visit: