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BEHIND THE SCENES: Freed from need and worry

Reporter Jenny Lamothe goes behind the scenes with Village Media's Scott Sexsmith

Notre Dame and King Street in Sudbury are currently abuzz with activity, and it's not just because of the barbecue and car wash held on July 21. The real reason behind the vibrant atmosphere can be attributed to the efforts of two remarkable organizations: Freed from Need and Sudbury's Centre for Transitional Care.

Both organizations have deep roots in the Sudbury community, having been founded by two compassionate women who were driven by a shared desire to make a positive impact. Freed from Need, a Facebook group initiated by Tina Lakatos, had a humble beginning, sparked by a simple encounter with a man in need of winter boots. Faced with judgments and unhelpful responses, Tina decided to create her own platform dedicated to people exchanging free items without judgment or stigma. The group has now grown to over 8,000 followers, connecting individuals and fostering a sense of community within Sudbury.

Initially, Tina managed donations and requests from her basement, but the movement has since evolved into a more organized structure. The Fresh n' Up hair salon, which Tina owns and operates on 495 Notre Dame Avenue, now serves as the collection point for donations, including much-needed items such as clothing, cutlery, and plates. Furthermore, Freed from Need has become the primary resource for individuals moving into the Notre Dame Avenue and King Street Area, providing them with essential support during their transition.

Right beside Tina's salon is the Sudbury's Centre for Transitional Care (SCTC), established by Jehna Morin, an associate addictions counselor. Jehna started with just one or two clients, primarily individuals she encountered while working with vulnerable populations during the pandemic, especially when the Memorial Park encampment was at its peak. Her outreach efforts expanded to include support in managing household responsibilities, securing housing, and navigating complex social assistance programs.

Through a strategic partnership with a building owner, Jehna was able to secure multiple apartments for her clients, offering them a supportive environment between acute care and independent living. Transitional care has proven instrumental in breaking the cycles that often lead vulnerable individuals back into the system. By providing a sense of belonging and teaching essential life skills, SCTC has successfully housed over 40 clients, with only five individuals having left the program.

SCTC's reach has grown considerably, now managing 13 out of 14 apartments at 495 Notre Dame and an additional 18 apartments at 519 Notre Dame. Thanks to a partnership with Raising the Roof, four completed units are available in two houses, with plans for three more new houses on the horizon.

The Flour Mill area community has embraced the endeavors of SCTC and Freed from Need. SCTC recently received a substantial grant of $59,100 from the Ontario Trillium Foundations Resilient Community Fund, while United Steelworkers Local 6500 has made lease payments for SCTC for the next seven months.

Jehna Morin acknowledges that the vulnerable population in the area has shifted, encompassing individuals facing challenges related to the opioid crisis and housing shortages. SCTC's approach to transitional care has provided a solution by fostering a sense of community, acceptance, and mutual support.

The ultimate goal of both organizations is to create an inclusive space that encourages residents to live interdependently, offering assistance when needed and promoting a harmonious communal environment. This shared vision is a testament to the determination and compassion of Tina Lakatos, Jehna Morin, and the entire Sudbury community in creating a better and more supportive place for all its residents.

Video Summary:

The intersection of King and Notre Dame in Sudbury has become a special place, offering help to vulnerable individuals through the initiative called "Freed From Need." Tia Lakatos, the founder, started by asking for a single pair of shoes to help someone in her community. The response was overwhelming, and she transformed her Facebook group into a platform with over 8000 followers, where people offer and request small household items, products, and services for free.

Sudbury Center for Transitional Care plays a crucial role in providing transitional housing in Northern Ontario, addressing the needs of individuals who may struggle to maintain stable housing due to various challenges such as addiction or acuity needs. Acting as a liaison between tenants and landlords, the center offers support and guidance, creating a community and neighborhood to support those in transitional housing.

To sustain their efforts, the organization has received funding from sources like the Trillium Foundation's Resilient Communities funding and local organizations like United SteelWorkers 6500. The community has stepped up to support Freed From Need, with grassroots backing from within the area.


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