ITL Health donates €.10 of every tub of magnesium sold to charity

Sharing Our Success

Generosity Begets Generosity

Grow the Pie

Not everybody has been given the right tools to succeed in life.  We feel blessed by our success and want to share it.

We hope that when people hear that we give to charity, it reminds them to also consider giving to charity, even if it's only a bit.

There is enough wealth to go around, and donating to worthy causes helps to redistribute resources.

When we made the decision to donate €.10 of every tub of magnesium sold to charity, it was a no-brainer where to first focus our efforts: The Sanctuary homeless shelter, founded and managed by our own CEO George Esser.


The Sanctuary

The Sanctuary


At a Glance

The Sanctuary is a homeless shelter that resides in the basement of an old YMCA facility that is owned and ran by River City Vineyard Church.  It receives no government funding, a decision they made consciously to avoid being forced into a box and being told how to help people.

Read below or click here for more information about the Sanctuary's mission. 

If you would like to donate to this cause, please click here.

The Sanctuary

What makes it unique 

Founded in 2006, The Sanctuary is not just a place for someone to lay their head at night.  The following excerpt from their mission statement shows how they are more than a homeless shelter:

An Emergency Homeless Shelter comes with a lot of emotions and expectations and has a definition that does not fit with The Sanctuary’s mission. Shelters are expected to be temporary, provide meals, counselling, and operate as a crisis care facility. The Sanctuary has no intention of running a crisis care facility nor do they want to compete with other homeless shelters in the area.

We want to provide a sanctuary to those who feel rejected from society, are down and out and have no place to turn. For some, that is hanging out during the day.

The goal is to provide a place where people will feel loved and accepted. If someone does not have a place to sleep for the night, The Sanctuary wants to offer a bed in a place that is safe and conducive to sleep.

What they offer

The Sanctuary offers many community programs including:

      • Overnight Accommodations: There are currently 26 beds for homeless men in the community
      • Assistive Housing Project: The Sanctuary aims to get people back on their feet and out of their homeless situation. They currently have 24 units helping 30 people.
      • Jobs: The shelter employs many of these men to help them with life skills
      • Community and Belonging: Many of these men have come to see The Sanctuary as their home.  The Sanctuary works with them to collect the “shelter” portion of their disability/social assistance check in order to allow them to have a place to call home while still contributing.
      • Shower Program: The Sanctuary offers free showers and haircuts to anyone in need
      • Free Store: There is a free second hand store open to anyone in need.  This has helped people get boots in the winter, coats to keep their children warm, baby items such as a stroller, or clothes for job interviews.
      • Food Bank: There are food banks in the city that have heavy parameters on when food can be obtained.  The Sanctuary offers food to anyone in need.
      • Meals: The Sanctuary offers cooked meals whenever possible to feed to anyone who is hungry.

Green Initiatives 

To help offset the costs of running The Sanctuary, River City Vineyard erected solar panels on the entire roof of the building.  They have signed a contract to sell whatever excess they don’t want to the government, which is a win/win for the environment, the building and the bottom line.

Expansion Project 

The Sanctuary is currently fundraising to expand their facility from 32 beds to 65 bed.

Why expand? 

The homeless population is growing thanks to rising housing costs, a growing population and the continual problems of mental health issues and addictions.  Everyone is welcome to hang out at The Sanctuary during the day, but every night it is heartbreaking for The Sanctuary to have to turn people away, particularly when the weather is cold.

Currently there is no safe space for homeless women to sleep.  The expansion would add a women’s area with 15 beds and a separate entrance.

They would also like to expand to include 25 more beds for the population of homeless men who are hard to help.  No one wants to help those with addiction issues.  The Sanctuary feels these are humans who fall through the cracks in society, stating in their fundraiser expansion that, “There are about 40% of the population that are not being helped. This group includes people with bed bugs, drug addictions, violent behaviour and mental illness…this expansion project is to help reach that group.”

This section would have some features that would help this vulnerable sector as well as staff stay safe and healthy by setting up a separate entrance with housing “capsules” to sleep in, with individual temperature controls and ventilation to help with odour control.  These pods would mean that those who have to be turned away due to a bed bug infestation can comfortably sleep the night, with their pod being easily treated for bed bugs during the day when they must vacate.

Want to know more?

To understand the unique perspective that The Sanctuary takes when dealing with people, consider this excerpt from their manifesto:

Another problem is that society often imposes their beliefs that no one should be addicted to drugs or alcohol. This forces those desperate for help to tell those in a position to help what they want to hear. They end up saying things like, “I want to go to detox,” or “I want to go to school,” and other such lines so that they will be helped now. We see so many failed attempts at detoxing, and other such promises because society puts the pressure on them to make these promises, but it is not their time, and it may never be their time – especially as many of them struggle with mental illness.

If you are wondering why The Sanctuary houses people long term

We cannot not help everyone. There is about 20% of the homeless population that is fairly easy to deal with and other shelters can help them. These include people in short term crisis situations that need a temporary solution.  Then there is around 40% that can be helped by The Sanctuary. These folks tend to be functioning people that just don’t do well living on their own. Many of them feel like the other shelters are not an option. The 26 men we currently help are mostly drug-free, non-violent and functional. Some are coming out of long deep depressions through the sense of community, love and acceptance we can offer with no judgments or expectations.

One problem we are experiencing is that The Sanctuary is turning into a residence with half of the people living there more than a year. Many find it a safe haven to get away and stay away from drugs.  This is important because the alternative places for them to crash are usually with people steeped in drug use and dealing drugs – which just pulls them back into the lifestyle they are trying so hard to overcome. For this reason, we cannot allow people on drugs to stay right now as it will only trigger those successfully getting away from that lifestyle.

By segregating different sections, The Sanctuary’s expansion will help more people in different phases of their life to help meet them at whatever stage they are at.  In short, they can help more vulnerable sectors and give more individuals the help they need, whatever that may be.

Want to Get Involved? You can donate to The Sanctuary by clicking here.

Community Christmas Outreach

Starting with a Christmas Eve service, River City stayed open all night so everyone had somewhere to be, to not be...

Posted by River City Vineyard on Thursday, December 26, 2019
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