Posted November 04, 2018 17:09:28 A young Ottawa-based woman from rural Manitoba who says she is homeless for the first time is trying to help other people.
Kaitlin O’Hara is the co-founder of The Red Hot Shelter, a shelter for veterans in downtown Ottawa that has hosted more than 1,100 veterans and their families since its opening in 2015.
She says she’s been homeless for about two years now and has found her way to the shelter because she believes people need to be treated with compassion.
“I am an old woman.
I have diabetes, my vision has gone.
I am on a lot of medication.
I’m having trouble breathing.
And I have a lot to live for.
So I decided that this is my last refuge.
It’s my last home.
It needs to be a place where people can just come and be themselves,” she said.
The shelter was founded by a group of volunteers, including O’Shara and her husband, Paul, who both are retired police officers.
They say they are homeless, living in tents and living in a trailer.
“There are people that are dying, people that need help, but they’re not able to access it.
And we need people that can get help.
We need to stop the death and suffering,” O’Harasaid.
Since the shelter opened, O’Sheaarss family has been in constant danger.
“When we have people that we’ve seen come in and say, ‘We’ve been homeless,’ it’s like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’ve been here for two years,'” she said, adding the shelter has had to shelter in place a lot.
“It has been a big challenge because we were so happy to have this place, but the first week, we had people come in crying, ‘Where are my kids?’
It was devastating.
We had to go to bed at night,” she recalled.
O’Sheasaid says the shelter is not the only place for people to go for help.
“There’s a lot out there that we are just not seeing enough of,” she added.
“We have people who have been there for so long that they have a sense of loss and they are just desperate.
There’s just so many other resources out there.”
For many people, the shelter can be a way to break the cycle of homelessness.
“If you can find a place that you can stay and get help, it can be that gateway into a better life.
There is a lot that can happen,” O`Sheasays husband said.
The shelter offers shelter, medical care, food, medical and mental health support, and money for rent.
“People that have been here, they’ve been there, they are here.
They know they can get out.
And if they are able to get out, there is a chance they could start a family and then maybe get a job or something else,” O�Shara said.
She also hopes the money the shelter gets will help keep other veterans from being left behind.
“The homeless, it’s not a right.
It is not a luxury.
We have to get it to the other side.
And then we need to get our lives together and get our own things together, and then hopefully we can find something to live on.”