In 2002, in a remarkable example of shared purpose and dedication, fourteen churches in Port Credit and Clarkson, came together to start The Compass. Today, The Compass, located on Lakeshore Road just west of Port Credit, is part of the fabric of the community and a touchstone for people living in southwest Mississauga. As many as 350 households a month rely on The Compass to provide basic food and supplies while countless others come for the Compass’ supplemental programs or just to drop in for a cup of coffee and see some old friends.
Backed by the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and supported by numerous local businesses, The Compass distributed 400,000 pounds of food last year, about half of which came from The Mississauga Food Bank. With an emphasis on healthy food (modeled after Canada’s Food Guide), it also has a purchasing budget to supplement TMFB’s weekly food shipments.
But The Compass does much more than just fight hunger through its food bank. It offers a number of programs, such as computer training, ESL classes, employment assistance, and a men’s and women’s group, to tackle the root causes of poverty.
The Compass’ two staff members, Trish Trapani (Market Manager) and Elaine McCarthy (Volunteer Manager) oversee more than 250 volunteers who provide more than 15,000 hours of service annually and without whom The Compass would not be able to do the stellar work that it does.
Elaine McCarthy recently oversaw the implementation of a new volunteer software, Better Impact, to help coordinate the large number of volunteers. The system has been a huge success. It has helped reduce wait times and training and increase the number of applications processed. In fact, Elaine says, the applications have increased so dramatically that The Compass has been able to postpone volunteer recruitment for the time being.
The Compass has also upgraded its market in recent years, redesigning the layout to maximize the relatively small space that the food bank occupies and ensure that it can serve clients as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Fifteen years ago, The Compass set out to be more than just a food bank and it has more than lived up to its name as a guiding light to help people find a new direction in life. It is a community center for those in need, offering a friendly face and a smile for all those who walk in the door.
If any agencies would like to visit The Compass to get a first-hand look at their operations, contact Trish at firstname.lastname@example.org.