Day programs join forces as Belong Ottawa

By on November 1, 2022

The three Ottawa day programs of the Diocese’s Community Ministries have merged to form Belong Ottawa with a new forward-looking strategic plan and a new logo. In a timely coincidence the new agency has benefitted from two bequests, each worth $50,000. 

The Rev. Canon Dr. Peter John Hobbs, Director General of Community Ministries, says it’s major step forward for the day programs. “Belong Ottawa reflects a new era for the Community Ministries, which are so cherished by the Diocese and by the community.”  


Belong Ottawa’s executive director Rachel Robinson says the experience of the pandemic demonstrated the power of the three programs pooling resources.  They initiated outreach, delivering food to rooming houses and people on the street as well as helping them stay connected and offering showers, laundry, washrooms and social support.

As work progressed on a strategic plan, she says, it became clear that the programs needed an umbrella name and an identity. “We began to see ourselves as one organization operating out of three sites. The intention of the rebranding is to bring clarity for funders, donors, staff and participants alike.” 

At the same time, it was important to retain the strong identities that had developed in each of the three programs. Belong Ottawa will continue to operate at the three sites of Centre 454, The Well and St. Luke’s Table.

The decision to merge was driven by three considerations: 

Having one instead of two executive directors allowed more resources to be channelled to support workers.

The desire to maintain the flexibility around food production that had been achieved during the pandemic. 

Staff appreciated being able to experience and learn from different sites, colleagues and communities.

Belong Ottawa’s professionally designed logo is intended to convey a sense of connection, safety and inclusiveness. The symbol shows different paths connecting on a journey to wellness. It’s a visual projection of the agency’s mission.

The strategic plan, to be implemented over three years, covers five basic goals, to:

  • work in partnership with participants to meet their needs;  
  • be a desirable employer that values and supports staff; 
  • support volunteers to contribute to the community; 
  • ensure financial health with adequate resources to adapt to changing need, and
  • create neighbourhood partnerships.

One of the first initiatives, to identify the appropriate staff complement to support operations effectively, has been completed with an agreed total of 30. 

In addition, Belong Ottawa will be counting on more than 100 volunteer hours a week. “Volunteers and participation from the people who use our services are essential,” Robinson says. “We could not run our programs without these additional workers.”

The strategic plan also calls for the creation this year of a full-time position of fundraising and communications manager. That role is linked to developing a new fundraising strategy, including reaching out to enlist new donors.

The merger extends to streamlined governance. Instead of three separate management boards Belong Ottawa will be reporting to one board composed of about nine individuals both from the Diocese and the community at large. The board, in turn, is appointed by the Community Ministries Committee of the Diocese.


  • David Humphreys

    David Humphreys is a member of the diocesan Homelessness and Affordable Housing Working Group. A retired journalist and former Globe and Mail bureau chief, he is a regular contributor to Crosstalk.

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