On Friday, November 3rd we saw the weather hit -13 degrees. While our group had the privilege of winter coats, gloves, and heaters, the reality is not everyone has somewhere to go to escape the elements.
This Seeing is Believing Tour focused on the journey from homelessness to housing, and how United Way and our funded partners are working towards supporting those without a home.
We first visited the homeless co-ed shelter,Emerald Centre operated by The Canadian Mental Health Association. Clients are welcomed with a hot shower and clean bedding, as well as fresh food. This impressive low-barrier shelter also employs outreach workers that work with clients to build a plan for a safe and sustainable future.
Our next stop was at the Maverick Motor Inn purchased by BC Housing for $6 million for ASK Wellness Society. The former motel offers 42 single unit living spaces for individuals who are looking to take the next step towards long-term housing, and ultimately create a better life for themselves and their families. ASK is offering reduced rental space to tenants for a maximum of two years to help them become more independent, accountable, and enter the workforce.
Our final stop was at Family Stepping Stones Supportive Housing operated by The Kamloops and District Elizabeth Fry Society. The picture to the right is the actual living room that clients access during their stay here. This supportive housing program caters specifically to women and children fleeing dangerous or violent situations. These women are given a safe haven to heal and empower other women in similar circumstances. Thanks to donors like you vulnerable women and their children are given an opportunity to stay together in a safe and supportive housing complex, all while seeking treatment or counselling.
One tour participant, Christine Anderson from Thompson Rivers University, shared about her experience:
“It was an eye-opening to visit the sites on the Seeing is Believing Tour. I was surprised to learn that the Emerald House shelter is really the only homeless shelter in our city and while offering 35 beds, turns away 25-30 people per night (although we learned that in the colder temperatures, an emergency shelter at Stuart Wood covers that intake).
Despite all of the great services, it shows a need to do more, and awareness is key so that as a community we understand the importance of supporting our local agencies so that they can be a voice to lobby or advocate to find solutions addressing what must be sometimes very complex and interconnected issues. Meanwhile, learning about transitional housing such as Stepping Stones for moms and children, and the impressive new Maverick, with its community feel, demonstrates the comprehensive types of supports and programming in place for those who want to develop a plan to a better life, so that they can be set up for success in their future and in our community.
It’s really great to see we have multiple layers of support for those getting back on their feet, and I am proud to be a part of an organization that campaigns to support and fundraise for the tireless advocates behind our local agencies.”
A very special thank you to members of our community who joined us on this Seeing is Believing tour to learn about how United Way is advocating for poverty to possibility. Learn more about how you can do more this holiday season by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phone us at 250.372.9933.
Thank you to our everyday heroes!
Seeing is Believing Tours, offer donors, volunteers and community members an opportunity to see first-hand where United Way’s money goes to work.
Participants are able to visit community agencies and hear directly from agency staff and clients about the difference United Way can make in the lives of individuals in our community. Click here to sign up or learn more!