The Executive Director of Genesis House described the last fiscal year as a 'bizarre year,' but a good year in the sense they were able to provide complete service.

A meeting to officially close the books on the 2022 fiscal year, which ended on March 31st was held on Monday.

Executive Director Ang Braun, says they had an extremely busy year, which was the complete opposite of the first year of the COVID pandemic.

"We were at full occupancy quite often during the last year," said Braun. "And there were still some COVID grants available, so we were able to maximize those grants to try to provide the best services we could to extra people."

Braun feels there were a couple of reasons for the high capacity. As restrictions around the pandemic started ending, she said some people 'saw that as an opportunity to get out.'

Some of the things that played a part were systemic in nature, noted Braun. "Where everything had been shut down and then trying to get things opened back up to more in-person service delivery, all of the agencies that we need to work with in order to move people along were struggling. Struggling to find staff, and struggling to find a system back in place after COVID. So I think there's been a couple of hiccups, which means that people were staying here longer than normal because there was no place to exit. It was harder to set that stuff up."

One of the biggest challenges of the last year was one that was shared with all ten shelters in the province. That challenge was that there was seldom a bed available anywhere.

"And so to try to juggle, you know, where do I put this new caller when my beds are all full here? So for the staff, there was a lot of searching, phoning around trying to find a bed anywhere, to try to figure out where we place this person, even temporarily, in the hopes we can bring them back to our shelter once we have a room available."

In spite of the challenges, Braun noted the board felt positive about the year.

Meanwhile, Braun said it was fantastic that the province finally came forward with some additional funding last year. "The goal that the province has in mind for us is to increase the effectiveness of service delivery by having adequate staff on shift on a time. So the goal of the new funding is to ensure that we have two staff people on shift at all times."

Braun said right now with one staff person on, that person is doing everything, answering the crisis line, cooking supper, as well as doing laundry. "So having two staff on to be able to share in that workload will definitely make us more effective."

"The community has once again stepped up for us as they have, year after year, even through COVID, without a storefront, the donations, the gifts, they continue to come and I just can't thank the community enough. It makes such a huge difference to us, the clients that we see, and the families that we help. It's an amazing and a humbling experience."