The Neighbourhood Resource Centre (NRC) celebrated its fifth anniversary with a street party just outside its Gore Street headquarters Wednesday.
The centre aims to prevent and deter crime in the neighbourhood through community engagement, bringing together the services of 40 partnering agencies under one roof, including Ontario Works, John Howard Society and Sault Ste. Marie Police Service.
“It’s common sense if they come in here and get support, they’re not in crisis, no one’s calling about them and they get the support they need, so the police are dealing with more immediate issues - more long-term issues - and we’re not dealing with a crisis situation that was averted by the resources and partnerships that are here,” Sault Ste. Marie Police Service Chief Hugh Stevenson said.
One of the people publicly acknowledged during Wednesday’s street party was Kathleen Geroux, who’s been volunteering her time at the NRC for five years now.
She’s at the centre two days per week, and sees the need for the NRC in the city.
“Well, let’s put it this way: If the NRC ever closed, people would be very lost - they would have nowhere to go, lots of them,” Geroux told SooToday. “Even if they came in here for coffee or toast, I mean, that’s a lot for some people in town.”
“It doesn’t matter if they’re homeless - some people just need to come, and have somewhere to go, and this is the place to come.”
Stevenson told reporters that places like the NRC help change people’s attitudes toward police.
“I fundamentally believe that the vulnerable people in this community look at our police service as friends and supporters, and people that can help them,” he said.
The NRC opened it doors in May of 2014 as the result of a high number of police calls for social disorder issues within a 1000-metre radius of the Gore Street-Albert Street East intersection, according to a 2016 report by the Nordik Institute.