A fundraiser next week will raise money for those in Nanaimo experiencing homelessness, whether overtly or covertly.
The Coldest Night of the Year walk, hosted by Island Crisis Care Society, will be held at Maffeo Sutton Park on Saturday, Feb. 25, beginning at 5 p.m. Elspeth Erickson, Nanaimo and Oceanside event director, said signs of homelessness may not be obvious, as there is a lot of “hidden homelessness” and those “on-the-edge of vulnerability.”
“There are definitely linkages between challenges with mental health and challenges with substance use, but so many people have just a trigger that happens and their slide into that precarious situation begins,” she said. “Sometimes they lose a job because of an injury or because they’re laid off. We see a lot of older women who have had homes and raised families, and their partner passes away or leaves … and they’ve got nowhere to go.”
The society has a $100,000 fundraising target and a goal to provide shelter and care for those in need. Money raised will assist such programs as Project Rise which provides job skills training and work placement.
“It gives them a kickstart into potentially moving back into the working world, but more importantly, moving back into confidence and independence,” said Erickson.
The Coldest Night of the Year walk will have two- and five-kilometre routes and participants can join a team. There was heavy rain during last year’s event, which Erickson said was fitting.
“Several people came back after their walk, dripping wet, with rain coming down their faces and feet soaked through, but also so incredibly moved … seeing people who weren’t going to finish the walk and go home to a nice warm house with a fire, but we’re going to be sitting there the entire night, in this rain with nowhere to go,” she said. “I think that became an incredibly powerful moment for those people realizing exactly what people have to face.”
Adults who raise at least $150 and children who raise $75 will receive a commemorative tuque.
Event volunteers are needed and should register in advance.
Registration for the walk begins an hour before the event at the park. For more information, including a link to sign up, visit www.cnoy.org/location/nanaimo.
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