History and Goals
The Welcome Home was founded in 1993, opening its doors to the local neighbourhood in September of that year. From the beginning, the Redemptorists reached out to the local neighbourhood to build relationships and to learn what the needs of the people were. The activities of the Welcome Home are currently coordinated by Delores Courchene and Fr. Larry Kondra, CSsR, who serves as chaplain. Both Fr. Larry and Delores have been involved with the Welcome Home since its earliest days.
Over the years, the Welcome Home has been served by nine Redemptorist priests and brothers, including three from Ukraine. Additionally, the Welcome Home has hosted fifty-three live-in volunteers since its founding, who have come from Canada, the United States, Poland, the United Kingdom, China, the Philippines, and twelve from Ukraine.9
The goals of the Welcome Home are simple: to minister to people, to give them a community and a place to grow in faith; in short, to provide a community in which they can experience God’s love. As the Redemptorists say, “The Welcome Home ministry has grown and changed over time, yet it remains a beacon of hope to those on the margin of our church and society. We are constantly striving to live out our faith by being Good News to those in need.”10
Activity and Impact
The Welcome Home is active for ten months of the year, from September to June, seeking to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the local neighbourhood. During these three seasons it engages in its own outreach while at the same time members of the Welcome Home community volunteer at a variety of organizations throughout the local area, seeking to build relationships with their neighbours.
The needs of the North Point Douglas neighbourhood are great. Seventy-one percent of North Point Douglas residents with children experience the challenges of single parenting, compared to 45 percent for Winnipeg as a whole. Thirty-three percent do not have a high school certificate or diploma, and 38 percent have a post-secondary certificate, diploma, or degree; in Winnipeg as a whole the figures are 17 percent and 53 percent, respectively. In 2015, the average individual income in North Point Douglas was $26,743, compared to $44,915 for the city of Winnipeg as a whole.11
In a typical ten-month period, the Welcome Home provides 900 hampers of food and distributes 1,500 sandwiches to those with food insecurity. Additionally, 1,600 meals are served every year at the Thursday Family Night events.12