A mainstay on Winnipeg's Main Street for over a century will be expanding thanks to an unexpected gift orchestrated by God.

Lighthouse Mission has been serving the Downtown community for over 110 years and leaders have had a vision to expand its work to include a detox centre in recent years.

"The building that we're in, we've been in since 1974 at 669 Main Street, and then in the 1980s, the leadership picked up the building next door at 667 Main Street," says Peter McMullen of Lighthouse Mission. "It had remained unused until about two years ago when we were able to open up the main floor as a drop-in during COVID, providing extra seating for people having a meal with us."

As McMullen talked to people coming through the doors, he sensed a significant need to help people struggling with substance abuse. "What they get out of it is connection and relationship, which is what we're all wired for by God. When we talked to them, we found out that the majority of our population struggles with addiction in one way or another.

"As we tried to get folks in for a hot meal and possibly into a long-term treatment program for a fresh start, we realized there was a tremendous bottleneck in Winnipeg: people couldn't get into detox to enter these programs," McMullen explains.

Seeing this need spurred the mission to raise funds for a detox program at Lighthouse Mission. "Over the past two years, we did what we could. We raised money and had tremendous successes through the grace of God, receiving $2.4 million from the federal government and several hundred thousand dollars from the province."

During the project, an unexpected opportunity arose. "Our friends across the street at Our place/ Chez Nous, an organization supporting Winnipeg's street population, needed to close during COVID due to a lack of resources. Our relationship with them blossomed as they shared equipment with us," McMullen says. "In July 2023, they decided to close their doors for good."

When McMullen was discussing this with Lighthouse Mission's leadership, the question of what would happen to the building came up.

"A member of our board, Daniel Emond, asked, 'What are they doing with the building?' So I went and asked them, and they were overjoyed to hear we were interested."

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Multiple organizations were interested in the building, but Lighthouse Mission was the only one that wanted to continue serving those on the street.

Amidst a major renovation on their current property to build the detox center, Lighthouse Mission didn't have the funds to buy another building. "We proposed a lease payment of a couple thousand dollars a month for a year, with the possibility of purchasing it later," McMullen explains.

After proposing the idea in January, Lighthouse Mission received a counteroffer. "When they heard our vision to carry on their mission and serve the same people more extensively, their board unanimously decided to sell us the building for a dollar."

"On March 15, after agreeing to the terms, we took possession of the building," McMullen says.

The renovations of the detox center are expected to take between 11 to 12 months before opening to the public. You can donate to Lighthouse Mission here.

When the doors to the new building open, Lighthouse Mission is looking for help to install air conditioning. You can get more information of how you can help by contacting Lighthouse Mission here