Thursday April 24, 2014

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A heart warming endevour

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In recent weeks we have talked a lot about the most vulnerable in our community.

We are faced with various mental health issues and how to properly deal with them.

We have a serious problem when RCMP officers in this community, or any community for that matter, are put in the position of being mental health support workers.

Mental Health Act calls continue to place major demands on our Coast detachment. The call volume jumped by 50 per cent in 2012 and, despite efforts by RCMP and Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) officials to work in closer co-operation, the demands have not been reduced. Clearly more funding is needed and more solutions need to be found.

But this is just one issue affecting the vulnerable and those in need here on the Coast.

The cold weather shelter (CWS) is also facing a funding crunch.

When we first ran a story in November outlining the crisis, the community stepped up. One woman anonymously donated $5,000.

The CWS operates thanks to a partnership with St. Hildaís Anglican Church and Sunshine Coast Community Services Society (SCCSS).

Its budget is pretty bare bones, with one paid employee and one volunteer who stay at the shelter for 12 hours when itís open. Add in a part-time coordination, hydro costs, and toiletries and itís about $7,500 a month to keep it open.

Since the shelter opened in November it has had a steady stream of people seeking a warm place to sleep and has been filled almost every night to capacity.

As it stands now, the shelter has enough to operate for another week or so before it will
have to close. In response, several in our talented musical community have generously stepped up to host a fundraiser next Saturday at the Sechelt Seniors Centre to try and stop this from happening.

Berni G and Frenz, including Joe Stanton, Ken Dalgleish and Boyd Norman, among others, will provide a cabaret of music, and food and drinks will be available at the event from 2 to 4:30 p.m.
on Feb. 8. Itís heartwarming to see these musicians give up their time for such a worthy cause ó now all they need is an audience, and thatís where the rest of us come in.

Tickets are $15, available at Swish in Gibsons, Strait Music in Sechelt or online at
Itís a small price to pay for a great afternoon of Coastal entertainment that is for such a good cause. Buy a ticket and spread some love and ensure that the shelter can stay open for the next few months. Everyone in our community deserves to have a safe and warm place to lay their heads. The shelter plays a vital role. It needs a helping hand. Letís all offer one.

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