Hope for Freedom Society’s Mark Foreman will pick up people who want a hot meal and a place to sleep for the night in a local church. (THE NEWS/files)

Mat Program running again in Maple Ridge as of Oct. 1

Will give homeless people a place for the night

The Mat Program is back and will give people a chance to come in out of the cold this winter.

Rob Thiessen, with the Hope For Freedom Society, which runs a residential treatment centre in Maple Ridge, said B.C. Housing is funding the program.

It will run Oct. 1 to March 31 in Maple Ridge, as well as the Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam and Port Moody. The program ran last year for the first time in Maple Ridge, from February to April.

The program also ran previously for an eight-year period in the Tri-Cities area.

In Maple Ridge, starting next month, a van will meet homeless people at pre-arranged locations at 9:30 p.m. each night and take them either to Maple Ridge Baptist Church, Burnett Fellowship Baptist Church, or Maple Ridge Alliance Church. Churches are helping out by providing the space and volunteers who will prepare the food.

Two other churches may also join the program.

Once homeless people get to a church, they’ll be welcomed by Hope for Freedom staff, given a hot meal and a warm place to sleep, followed by breakfast and a bagged lunch in the morning, before being driven back to where they were picked up.

“It worked very good last year,” said Thiessen.

During the few months the program ran last year, he said that nine people were moved off the streets. About 10 people showed up each night last spring, although that number was increasing towards the end of the program.

Thiessen said some people don’t do well staying in shelters and the Mat Program offers an alternative. Some people who are homeless are older, with obvious infirmities.

“They need a quiet place and that’s one thing we offer, a quiet, safe place,” Thiessen said.

He said that sometimes people push back about the religious connection, but homeless people never criticize that, he added.

“We’re going into the church, nobody’s preaching to them,” Thiessen said.

“I don’t really understand why people fear faith-based organizations doing this kind of work.”

Thiessen said the program currently could accommodate 20 people, but could expand from there. The ultimate goal of Hope for Freedom Society is to get addicted people clean and sober and get homeless people housed, he added.

“We would love to work ourselves out of a job.”

He added that Maple Ridge council unanimously supports the mat program.

Just Posted

Maple Ridge’s Youth Wellness Centre has a new home

Flood sped up relocation to Lougheed Highway

On Cooking: Building the perfect sandwich or burger

Secret lies in placement of all ingredients.

Maple Ridge students send books to displaced students of Hornby Island school fire

Glenwood elementary teacher says students learned about acts of kindness

Maple Ridge writers and readers fest for anyone who loves books

Great Canadian Literature Tea tickets selling fast

Untrending : Storm shows value of community

Reminder we are vulnerable to nature’s whims.

Ottawa area residents take stock of tornado rubble as Ford tours the ruins

A tornado on Friday afternoon tore roofs off of homes, overturned cars and felled power lines in the Ottawa community of Dunrobin and in Gatineau, Que.

Cap rent increases at inflation rate, B.C. task force recommends

MLAs say drop annual increase that would allow 4.5% rise next year

School, church and old mining site make Heritage BC’s 1st ever ‘watch list”

The list includes sites in need of protection to maintain B.C.’s culture and history

5 to start your day

Maple Ridge students send books to fire-destroyed school, teen stabbed in Surrey park and more

Yowza! Twerk, emoji and facepalm are added to Scrabble dictionary, OK?

Merriam-Webster has announced 300 new words have been added to the spelling game

LGBTQ activists, allies in Victoria counter anti-SOGI protest with rally of their own

Lower Mainland activists plan to protest SOGI on legislature lawn, Sept. 29

Three people attacked on Queensborough Bridge

Man in custody following incident occurred Sunday

Cities make power play for new fiscal order with eye to 2019 federal election

Trudeau ordered Champagne to talk with provinces and territories about ways to “address the timeliness of the flow of funds” to projects.

Trudeau arrives at United Nations, hoping to re-establish Canada on world stage

Trudeau is beginning his day at the opening of the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, where he’s scheduled to deliver brief remarks later this afternoon.

Most Read