After grandson dies of an overdose, Sudbury senior volunteers to help the vulnerable
Street Outreach Sudbury, known as SOS, is a community-based volunteer group that helps homeless and under-housed people.
During the pandemic, it’s been clothing vulnerable people and providing food. One volunteer is known as 'Grandma' because of her special connection to people in need.
Last Sunday, 82-year-old Aline Pitcher kindly helped a man living in a tent pick out some boots, warm clothes and blankets.
“Sometimes I hear them come in here right at the gate over there and they say 'hi Grandma,' 'hey Grandma'," Pitcher said.
"The other day I think there was three of them (saying) 'hey Grandma!'”
The groups said Pitcher is a dedicated volunteer.
“She is one of the longest-standing volunteers. She is here every single Sunday, rain, shine, sleet, snow,” said Melissa Poitras Belanger a volunteer with SOS.
“She is here and knows all of our participants by name. She is incredible. She knows exactly what they need she even puts stuff aside for them and waits for them.”
Pitcher said she started helping vulnerable people after her grandson, Myles Keaney, passed away downtown from an overdose.
“Well personally it’s my grandson Myles, I feel that I am doing something that he would want me to do,” she said.
SOS said recently the number of people is seeking assistance from the group has decreased.
“There is a strong need although we have seen a decrease in our numbers,” said Poitras Belanger.
"We were seeing up to 200 participants per program day and now we are seeing 40 to 60, so we are definitely seeing an improvement."
Pitcher said she likes to talk to people to find out where they are at and what they need.
“I always ask, 'are you sleeping in or out?' and you know, if they tell me outside, they can’t keep warm," she said.
"Last Sunday, it took me two, two and half hours to warm up once I got home."
She still volunteers every Sunday, braving the cold to help those living in it.
The group is currently in need of new volunteers, winter clothing, blankets and individually wrapped snacks. Items can be dropped off at the Market location downtown every Sunday from 12-4 p.m.
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