What Warren Maddox remembers most about Marilyn Louise Simms, or Mim as she was known, is just how much “she loved to laugh.”
Maddox, executive director of Fredericton Homeless Shelters, first met Mim 30 years ago in a local coffee shop. He came to know her as a “wonderful person with a huge heart.”
Simms was a teacher’s assistant at Connaught Street School, Maddox said, and she also loved the arts.
According to her obituary, she had worked as an administrative assistant in Ottawa at the Malaysian Embassy and then for almost two decades at RCMP headquarters.
She eventually moved back home to Fredericton where she owned a retail shop, Second Time Around, and studied pottery before moving into elementary school education.
Now, her legacy will live on as her former home on Aberdeen Street, aptly named Mim’s House, has been converted to apartments for people without permanent housing.
The home had been owned in later years by Fredericton city councillor Jason LeJeune, who used to serve on the board of Fredericton Homeless Shelters. It was bought by that group and renovated into two one-bedroom apartments.
A transitional space
The apartments will soon be occupied by two individuals on the by-names list, a running list of homeless people in Fredericton.
The tenants moved through Fredericton Homeless Shelters’ continuum of care model, which Maddox said involves stabilization and assessment.
“[They’ll] still have all the supports of the shelter to help them make that transition from sort of being down and out … into sort of complete independence,” he said.
WATCH | ‘A legacy for Mim’: Warren Maddox explains how Mim’s House will allow people to gain independence:
The tenants will still remain on the housing list and there will be a defined period of how long they’ll stay in the apartments, said Maddox.
If something comes up in terms of a permanent apartment that fits their needs, the tenants will transition out into the new space.
Tenants will pay a service fee to Fredericton Homeless Shelters each month and the Department of Social Development is providing rent supports for both apartments.
There are plans for purchasing more units in the future.
“We’re just desperate for housing,” Maddox said. “In terms of our large long-term plans and everything else, our mission is to get people into housing.”
So far, the neighbours have been welcoming, which Maddox attributes to the shelters’ reputation.
“What we don’t want is to continue to be perpetuating the stigma that surrounds homelessness,” he said. “We’re coming into the neighbourhood quietly and we want to be quiet good neighbours.”
When he attended the burial service for his old friend, Maddox said her friends were happy to hear that her former home was being turned into the apartments by Fredericton Homeless Shelters.
“I think [Mim would be] as tickled as she could possibly be,” said Maddox.
“I’m sure she’s looking down, clapping her hands.”