Opinion

Letter: Finding a home

Over the past 6 years a group of community volunteers have been working to build a Homeless shelter here in Cranbrook to service the entire East Kootenay. There are no shelter beds between Lethbridge Alberta and Nelson BC. Cranbrook is the  center for people of all needs in our region. It also meets the needs of many homeless who require a wide range of services, temporary shelter, food, clothing, social income, healthcare-  both physical and mental, and things as simple as a bus to get around in winter.  They come to our city broken;  broken homes, broken marriages, broken childhoods and in some cases addictions that have robbed a lifetime of potential.

Early in this initiative we sat down with our MLA Bill Bennett and at that time asked his help in securing annual funding for the Salvation Army and the Kootenay Christian Fellowship to operate cold weather shelters. His pledge at that meeting was that if we could not find government funding that he would roll up his sleeves with us and we would phone everyone in town until we had raised the $70 thousand dollars required to run the shelters that winter.

Bill has been on board since then. We have learned to keep our focus and to adapt to new funding realities. On May 23rd Bill toured the Willowbridge housing  complex in Kelowna with members of our local Salvation Army.  Willowbridge operates a 40 suite supported living building which will work very well to meet the needs of the homeless in the East Kootenays. It will require 35% of the funds to build and 30 % of the funds to operate that our first proposal required.

The homeless coalition will continue to work with all community partners to realize a permanent year round shelter in Cranbrook. Thank you to all who have given and continue to donate in support of this initiative. Thank you to all in our region who believe in the need for this shelter and to Bill for taking that need to the Legislature in Victoria. We will keep working at this.

Donations can be made to the Salvation Army, 533 Slater Road, Cranbrook BC, V1C-4Y5.

 

~Neil Cook

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