If you drive past the Trinity church hall on Collier St at any given hour of the day, you'll see the patrons of the David Busby Centre. They start to arrive about 7:45am, some coming from Out of the Cold beds, some from the Salvation Army mission, some from rooming houses in the downtown.

Who are these people?

Many of them are people who lived at Edgar Occupational Centre (a mental health facility in Oro Township, closed by the provincial government) and are now sidelined for services. Many of them are receiving Ontario Disability pensions for physical or psychological challenges. Many are clients of Ontario Works. Many are people who are working, cobbling together part time jobs in an effort to put together a living income. Many are seniors. Many are single parents. Many are young.

The Busby client base is as diverse as the population of the rest of Barrie and the staff inside see 150 to 175 clients a day. They come for coffee and toast in the morning. They come to 'check things out' before maybe approaching the Canadian Mental Health worker, or the Ontario Works worker, or the Housing working for help.

They may visit the Nurse Practitioner on staff, they may use one of the showers, they may enjoy a cup of soup when soup and sandwiches arrive from some kind source.

There are more men than women and the main age group is 25 to 45.

Key here is the fact that the Busby Centre is a place without judgement. It's a place where a hand comes out to offer help without piercing eyes or questioning voice. That means the four full time and three part time staff are extremely special people, jammed into a too-small space, and providing services for a growing number of people. A Trillium grant has enabled the centre to acquire the services of Yolanda Gallo in raising both awareness and funds.

Busby Centre works closely with others in the community, to make sure that people don't fall through the 'cracks' of support so important for those who are disadvantaged for one reason or another.

It's an easy group to ignore, if you have a mind to do so.

It's an easy group to help, too.

On Saturday, April 24 at Army Navy Air Force Club, the Streetlight Gala will totally centre around the work of the Busby Centre. At $50 a plate, it's an affordable gala to help out people who will likely never attend one. It seems like an odd thing to do, on the surface... hold a gala dinner for people who can't attend one.

Executive Director Sara Peddle explains. This event will raise money that will directly benefit those entering the doors of Busby. It raises awareness, too. As well it will honour individuals whose energy continues to give to the centre. Mandy Hillyard will be honoured with the Founders Award. Though she's no longer involved with the centre on a day-to-day basis, she continues to check in from her current work, to see how things are going. Norah Busby, whose husband, David, made sure the centre had a home in the first place, will receive the Memorial Award. Joan Lafrance will receive the Volunteer of the Year award. Joan's daily, unconditional care and support of the Busby clients is well appreciated. And Mark Aikens, CAO of the County of Simcoe, will be honoured with the Community Service Award.

Great dinner, silent auction, good company at a table of friends, additions to the coffers of Busby which needs $420,0000 a year to operate... all for $50. They've developed a tribute journal, too, for people who can't attend but want to contribute.

There are lots of options to help. Saturday, April 24 at 6 pm (cocktails). Tickets $50 each or a table for 8 at $320. Call 739-6919 or email fundraising@busbycentre.ca.

Thanks, Sara, to you and your whole team.

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