Cold weather shelter needs more support

Christine Wood/Staff Writer / Staff writer
February 2, 2014 01:00 AM

The cold weather shelter has just enough funding to scrape through until the first week of February, but supporters hope a benefit concert on Feb. 8 will give the boost that's needed to stay open until the end of March.

"We are also waiting from the District of Sechelt for news about a grant that we submitted in December and that's looking very promising. They've always been very supportive," said Kelly Foley, community connections manager at the Sunshine Coast Community Services Society (SCCSS). "So I think we'll do it between the fundraiser and the support from the District of Sechelt."

The fundraiser was the idea of local performer Berni G, who stepped up to support the cold weather shelter after hearing it was in need of help.

"She said she would put together all of the entertainment in the afternoon and she asked for our support just to kind of market and organize it on the back end," Foley said, noting, "she's brought together a really wonderful group of artists to perform."

The event, dubbed the Cold Nights-Warm Hearts Fundraiser, will see Berni G and Frenz host an afternoon of cabaret featuring music from the '40s, '50s and '60s at the Sechelt Seniors Centre from 2 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8.

Guest performers include Joe Stanton, Ken Dalgleish and Boyd Norman, and there will be drinks and food available.

Everyone is donating their services to the event and even the Seniors Centre has waived its regular rental fee so that every penny raised can go to the shelter.

Tickets are $15 for this adult-only event and they can be purchased at Swish in Gibsons, Strait Music in Sechelt or online at

Coast Reporter first ran a story asking the public for support of the cold weather shelter in November. At that time the shelter had just enough money to operate until December and it was in need of thousands to keep the doors open.

Right after the story ran the public came forward with donations.

"That weekend one woman anonymously donated $5,000," Foley said noting, "the phones went off the hook," with others wanting to give.

In the end the shelter raised enough to stay open until February, however, now more funding is needed.

The cold weather shelter is open on evenings the extreme weather emergency shelter is not and it's run through a partnership with St. Hilda's Anglican Church (where the shelter is housed) and SCCSS.

"St. Hilda's are providing program management and Community Services are providing administrative and fundraising support," Foley noted.

The shelter has one paid employee and one volunteer who both stay at the shelter for 12 hours a night when it's open.

The employee is paid $15 an hour while the volunteer gets a $25 stipend. That cost alone can run $6,150 a month if the shelter is open every day.

In addition a program coordinator is paid a part time salary and things like hydro and toiletries need to be paid for each month.

It all adds up to about $7,500 to keep the shelter open for one month.

"And that's a pretty bare bones budget," Foley said, noting shelters usually have two full-time paid staff people.

Since the shelter opened in November it has been used steadily, with an average of nine people a night. The shelter can serve up to 10 people looking for a warm place to sleep.

If you would like to give to the shelter, but can't come to the Feb. 8 fundraiser, you can contact Foley by email at

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