Chalmers Community Services Centre
Called to Care in our Community
Community services help those in need to thrive and flourish and to create a better life for themselves. Chalmers Community Service Centre does just this by "offering food, clothing, diapers, bedding, sundry household items and mending to help vulnerable people experiencing insecurities in our community." They also work to address key issues, which contribute to poverty in the community of Guelph.
Chalmers Community Services Centre began in 1997 with a small group of dedicated Chalmers United Church volunteers. Pat DeVries, an activist in Guelph, played a vital role in launching the Centre. The volunteers noticed there were many individuals in Guelph experiencing food insecurities and wanted to change this. They opened a small food pantry called the Fair Share Food Shelf, provisioned with non-perishable food items. They also started a Saturday Night Supper program.
Over the last 20 years, the Chalmers Community Services Centre has added more programs to help assist those in need across our community. In 2008 the Centre opened a second location in Guelph called ‘Chalmers WEST’, located in a portable behind Three Willows United Church, enabling the Centre to reach a broader spectrum of people experiencing insecurities. In 2016, Chalmers launched its Microfinance program, which provides small loans to people who have developed a plan to "establish greater financial self-sufficiency."
Chalmers Downtown (41 Macdonell Street) and Chalmers WEST (557 Willow Road) both participate in the food pantry program. This program allows guests to obtain 3 days' worth of nutritious food and offers a variety to suit dietary preferences. They also provide gently used clothing and household items to guests. Guests may choose up to 4 items each week, while volunteers also offer to help mend clothes during their visits. Both locations offer a morning café program where guests can enjoy a coffee, snack, and company. Four times a year they host dental days to help guests maintain healthy teeth and gums. As Centre staff and volunteers at Chalmers are well-versed in other support programs offered in Guelph, they also help guests find additional supports they may need.
Chalmers Community Services Centre, together with their over 90 volunteers, many of them female, work hard to achieve their vision: "A world without poverty, where communities are flourishing with dignity, equality, and food security for all." Chalmers has brought people together from all over the Guelph community to help each other and create a better community together.