The Inn of the Good Shepherd was founded in 1981 by a group from St. John’s Anglican Church on Devine Street, in Sarnia’s south end, who became concerned with the growing needs of the disadvantaged in the area. “When The Inn started, they quickly realized that the need was much greater than they anticipated and it wasn’t just a southside need,” says Executive Director, Myles Vanni. What began as a temporary measure to address the fallout of the ongoing recession, is still operating over 40 years later with a much greater range of programs.

The mission of The Inn is to provide service with dignity to those in need of food, shelter and other essentials. “This is an important statement as it guides our programs and how we serve people,” says Vanni. Their location at 115 John Street, allows The Inn to hold many of their activities and services in one spot, making it easy for those they serve. Perhaps best known for their food programs, The Inn operates a foodbank, soup kitchen, two homeless shelters, a mobile market, and so much more. Currently, 1,900 people access the food bank monthly, 500 people visit the Lodge, and 120 youth visit The Haven, a short-term shelter for young adults. The Inn serves the working poor, unemployed and homeless, with 65-70% of the people they serve employed or on a pension.

Between their three locations, The Inn employs 35 staff members and has 450 volunteers. The organization is governed by a board of twelve community members. “With the fallout of the pandemic and the rising costs due to inflation, there will be more people in need of The Inn’s services. We’ve always managed to find a way to support those in need, and we will again.” Some of their newer programs include the after the bell snack program, summer camps, and back to school kits. “Last year we supplied 800 backpacks of school supplies. We also do income taxes to help people access the funds they are entitled to.” The mobile market, which offers fresh produce to people in 14 locations across Sarnia from July through October, has been a big undertaking. “Getting fresh, healthy food into people’s hands has so many positive benefits.”

Today, The Inn is supported by individuals, churches, service groups, schools, labour groups, industry and all levels of government. “The community is tremendous in terms of sponsorships and donations. Their support allows us to be the caring hands of the community. Every day I see people that want to help others.” Through community support, The Inn of the Good Shepherd continues to be here every day, to help households through their everyday struggles. “That backpack of school supplies, the hot meal, the fresh vegetables, the tax clinic, a warm coat all represent a caring community that is standing up against poverty. This represents dignity and hope!”