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Rolling respite: Maritime charity builds 16-bed shelter on wheels

A new mobile shelter is helping those living on the streets of Prince Edward Island.

In response to the ongoing housing crisis in the Maritimes, the non-profit organization Atlantic Freedom Ministries has created a 16-bed shelter called the Freedom Bus.

“The heart again, is to form relationships with people. It’s awful hard to do that when you can’t feel your fingers,” said Keith Ivany, founder of Atlantic Freedom Ministries.

“Give them a coffee, and actually make them feel like, well, they’re loved, and they’re a valued part of society.”

Ivany says he struggled with addiction for 30 years. He now describes himself as a street pastor, working with homeless people in Moncton and P.E.I.

According to Ivany, about 25 volunteers have helped to convert the old bus, many of them formerly homeless, like recovering addict Jimmy McGee.

“I spent 12 years homeless,” said Magee.

“I know what it’s like to be out there. So the best type of person to reach people that are out there is somebody from that same background, and I have the heart and desire to want to reach out to people.”

A photo of the Freedom Bus created by Atlantic Freedom Ministries. (Jack Morse/CTV Atlantic)

Once the bus is finished, Magee says he hopes to be able to spend his nights volunteering at the shelter.

Ivany said he hopes the bus can be an example for other communities, of how to support people struggling with homelessness. He wants to have a whole fleet of busses offering help across the region.

While it’s not a permanent solution, Ivany says it can be someone’s first step.

“People don’t care what you know, until they know how much you care,” said Ivany.

“I want them, when they get on the bus, to go ‘wow, this is for me?’”

Ivany says the project is being paid for through fundraising. The group is hosting a concert in support of the bus in Georgetown on Nov 25.

The group is expecting the Freedom Bus to be on the road by the end of the month.

For more Prince Edward Island news visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

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