Riverside Mission’s core services are free and will remain so, says the director


Joe Miller of Souls Harbour Rescue Mission (SHRM) recently spoke with the Moose Jaw Express about the upcoming project to build a new $4 million home for the Riverside Mission and the services that will be offered there.

Riverside Mission focuses on providing the community with shelter, food and clothing, and contrary to some online posts, it offers these services for free, says the organization's executive director.

Joe Miller of Souls Harbour Rescue Mission (SHRM) spoke to the Moose Jaw Express recently about the upcoming project to build a new $4 million home for the Riverside Mission and the services it will provide.

He also criticized the Good Neighbours Group – which opposes the project – for claiming online that the nonprofit organization charges fees before the Moose Jaw men can use the shelter.

“This is simply inaccurate information,” he said.


SHRM reviewed the project and asked how the Riverside Mission's core services – food, clothing and shelter – could be improved, Miller said.

The new venue – 720 square meters – will continue to offer free lunch and dinner Monday through Friday and will have a commercial kitchen to cook healthy meals for people experiencing food insecurity, he continued.

Currently, the nonprofit serves 20 to 30 people for lunch and 40 to 75 people for dinner, and that trend is expected to continue. Additionally, the new dining room will be slightly larger while meals will continue to be served buffet-style.

“The people we serve are – for lack of a better name – not the typical people who would show up at a soup kitchen,” Miller noted, adding that more immigrants, seniors and apartment renters – and not just the homeless or drug addicts – are using the food services.

“Meal services at the new facility will be available to everyone. With inflation, it's difficult to live and put a good meal on the table right now,” he continued. “And if we can help change that, that would be fantastic.”

“Food will be the top priority at this facility.”

The Riverside Mission is not currently serving meals on weekends, but will continue to support other community groups that do and help fill any gaps that exist.

The new building will become a regional food distribution centre as SHRM will distribute the “abundance of food donations” it receives – half-loads full of produce – to other non-profits, food banks, reserves and “like-minded charities” in southern Saskatchewan, Miller said.

The organization can only process a limited amount of food at its Regina location due to limited freezer and refrigerator space. In contrast, the Riverside Mission's new building will have three times the freezer and refrigerator space compared to its Queen City partner.


SHRM's Regina location receives plenty of clothing donations at its “store,” where customers can shop and take what they want for free – an offer that donors appreciate, Miller says.

However, since the organization receives more clothing than it can process, it will use the new Riverside Mission building as another distribution center, he continued. Any leftover clothing will be collected and donated to charities – orphanages or women's centers – in developing countries.


The capacity of the new men's shelter will be increased slightly – from 10 to 12 – while it will remain alcohol and drug free, Miller said.

In addition, the organization will help the men find permanent housing, build a resume and dress well for job interviews, and support their reintegration into society so they can build new lives and be good citizens, he continued.

Twelve spaces is a number the nonprofit can easily accommodate, is sufficient and affordable, and reflects the size of Moose Jaw's population and the number of men who need housing assistance, Miller said. By comparison, SHRM's home in Regina has space for 24 men.

However, its staff are not trained to deal with mental health issues and the organization instead refers clients to other community-based services.

“I don’t have the resources to hire people who can help people with mental health problems,” he noted.

Miller pointed out that the Riverside Mission shelter rarely reaches its maximum capacity, with three to four men using the space in the summer, for example, and six to eight in the winter.

The executive director added that Riverside Mission may also offer addiction-specific services in the future, but this will not happen until SHRM builds another building on the adjacent property in Phase 2.

Office space

SHRM plans to create modern, technology-equipped offices and a boardroom in the new building and make those spaces available free of charge to other nonprofits and community-based organizations in Moose Jaw, Miller said, ensuring clients get the wraparound services – health, education, employment – they need.

The organization also employs a professional counselor in Regina who provides free support to marginalized groups in Moose Jaw.

Miller added that groundbreaking should begin this fall and that concrete and piling should be installed before winter sets in.