After being homeless for 13 years and pulling his life back together, Ron Eldridge remains dedicated to helping people whose situation he understands all too well.
The founder of the Devoted to You Street Ministry, Eldridge — who now lives in Tuxedo after being based out of St. Vital for many years — and nine other volunteers will be at the Old Market Square Sept. 21 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. handing out winter clothing, backpacks filled with personal hygiene products, and sandwiches.
Eldridge, a caretaker and maintenance man for a seniors apartment block, started the street ministry in 2006 after spending 13 years on the streets himself, from 1974 to 1987. He left an abusive home in Victoria, B.C. at 13.
"It was a lady here in Winnipeg that took an interest in me and got me cleaned up," said Eldridge. "After a few years off the streets I decided it was time to start helping all the other homeless people out there."
Eldridge said simple items mean so much more.
"A backpack can be a closet to a person without a home," said Eldridge. "Winter clothing is very hard for them to get because they can’t just walk into a store and buy clothing like we can, the same with personal hygiene products… these are necessities that they need."
The street ministry receives the products through donations made over the course of the year. On Oct. 26, there will be a dinner — catered by Southdale Village Family Restaurant — and a silent auction at The Bridge Church (620 Oxbow Bend Rd.) to raise funds for the ministry.
Tickets to the pasta dinner are $25. For more information, contact The Bridge Church at 204-888-1887.
To volunteer, donate, or for more information on helping on Sept. 21, call Eldridge at 204-880-5182, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.