The cold weather shelter in Sechelt is expanding to better serve the Coast’s homeless this winter, but more money is needed to finish the job.
The shelter is housed in the annex building at St. Hilda’s Anglican Church and it’s been running for two seasons now.
The shelter opens when the weather is cold and wet in the fall and winter. Not only does it provide a warm, dry, safe place for people to sleep, but the Coast’s homeless are fed warm meals made by volunteers who stay and eat with them as well.
“It’s not just the feeding, it’s the companionship, it’s the eating together,” said St. Hilda’s Rev. Clarence Li. “I think isolation is a big thing, not just for the street community, but actually for a big part of our community as well, so we hoped it could be something for them too, because as always there is a kind of mutuality whenever we’re in relationships.”
The shelter meals were provided by seven different organizations, churches and service clubs last season. The Rotary Club of the Sunshine Coast - Sechelt was one such group.
President David Fedor said his members saw the need for renovation at the annex building while helping out.
“The building was in a somewhat leaky condition,” Fedor said.
It was also too small to meet the needs of the few staff members who stayed overnight at the shelter, and more storage was needed to house the mattresses used.
If anyone wanted to have a private conversation, they had to go outside to talk and there was nowhere for staff to do paperwork, Li explained.
Wanting to fix the problems, the Rotary Club of the Sunshine Coast - Sechelt and St. Hilda’s started fundraising for a four-metre expansion and renovations to the multi-purpose building.
In the evenings it’s used as a shelter in the cold months, but during the day it is used by the church and functions as a preschool.
The expansion and renovations are estimated to cost $15,500, less than usual, thanks to many volunteer hours being put in by the Rotary Club.
Volunteer Rotarians such as Clark Hamilton, Mike Gojevic and Dave Hawkins have “undertaken to do major work in bringing in volunteers as well as doing it themselves,” Fedor noted.
Many hands have been helping on the project, which started last month, and much money has been raised to date.
“We have already raised about $11,500 and this is money that the church has saved up. Both the Sunshine Coast Regional District and the District of Sechelt, through their grants-in-aid program, have contributed, and also the Rotary Club has donated $5,000 already in addition to their volunteer labour,” Li said.
“So we are about $4,000 short and we would like to invite the wider community to help us if they can.”
Donations to the project can be made to St. Hilda’s Anglican Church (specify the donation is for the annex expansion) and sent to PO Box 302, Sechelt, B.C. V0N 3A0.
The church office is also open to accept donations from 10 a.m. to noon from Tuesday to Friday. A tax receipt can be provided if requested.
The Rotary Club of the Sunshine Coast - Sechelt plans to have the work done on the annex building by the end of summer.
© Coast Reporter