The original vision for Riverside Mission began in 2005-2006 under the leadership of Dwight Schapansky, then pastor of New Life Center (Pentecostal Church). New Life Center leadership prayerfully decided to take a bold step of faith and purchase a building on historic River Street W. in Moose Jaw. The church was small (approx. 50 people) and had no budget for another building. The first building was purchased in Oct. 2006. The original idea for the building was to use it primarily as a soup kitchen, to give people a safe, warm, loving place to go and feel accepted and loved. We wanted to be more intentional about getting out of our church building, getting out of our comfort zone and reaching out to those who may not feel comfortable coming into our churches; the marginalized in our society, the unlovely, the unloved, the despised, those looked down upon, those who Jesus loves very much. The building was purchased for $55,000 in October 2006 and the work of gutting and renovating was begun. It was an old Chinese restaurant, and the plan was to just operate a drop-in centre/soup kitchen.
In October 2007, we were approached by some realtors who represented some wealthy investor/developers who were buying up all the property on the first block of River St. W. Because the other properties were all operating businesses, they moved to purchase ours first. Initially we were not interested in selling because it would be difficult to find affordable property downtown to operate a mission. To entice us to sell, the realtors found some other properties that might be suitable for us. We decided on the current location of 36, 40, 42 Manitoba St. E. and then negotiated with the realtors an offer on our first building to make it possible to purchase the new one. In February 2008, we settled on a selling price of $230,000. This was over 4 times what we paid originally. The new site on Manitoba St. E. was purchased for $237,000.00. This property was purchased in April 2008.
The new building expanded our vision and possibilities for the mission. We now had two buildings, which included a functional restaurant area, 11 affordable suites for low income people, and an area for an emergency homeless shelter.
The first homeless man was given shelter in Oct. 2008. The kitchen was opened serving its first meal in April 2009. Presently we serve three soup and sandwich lunches a week feeding approximately 35 people each meal. We serve two hot meal suppers a week feeding approximately 50 people each meal. In September 2010, Riverside Mission partnered with Saskatchewan Mental Health and Addictions to begin a transitional housing program for men. We reserved four of our suites for men who are going through addictions recovery. We offered them temporary (6-9 months) supportive housing that is drug and alcohol free. They were referred through Mental Health and Addictions Services of the Five Hills Health Region and had somewhere to stay after detox or treatment to continue on in their recovery. This program has evolved into a supportive housing program for Drug Court clients and/or mental health clients. Riverside Mission continues to offer 7 low-cost, clean, safe and recently renovated apartments to low-income adults. January 2013 a social night was added to our program to offer our clients a safe affordable place to socialise. Folks gather to play games and visit and enjoy refreshments.
Riverside Mission’s goal is to offer care and compassion to our community’s less fortunate delivering a positive message of hope and love to people through our actions and words.