Editor’s note: In 2020 it should be no surprise that more and more woman hold positions of power. Whether it’s business, politics, sports or the non-profit sector, woman continue to achieve new milestones. This story is part of a series of stories highlighting 16 women in Kelowna who are leaders in their fields. You can read all of their stories in our annual publication called Women in Business in the Feb. 28 issue of Kelowna Capital News.
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Homelessness is one of the most visible and pervasive issues Kelowna is facing, however behind the scenes there are hundreds of people trying to help those who are less fortunate.
Stephanie Ball, executive director of the Central Okanagan Journey Home Society, is one of those people.
While Ball only recently stepped into the position, she came to the job with lots of experience, including previously working with people with cognitive disabilities and brain injuries as well as working with the Red Deer Homelessness Initiative.
In Red Deer, Alta., she worked tirelessly to bring local, provincial and federal partners together to respond to the city’s homeless situation. She also spent time in Edmonton finding ways for organizations to work together to provide emergency shelters and permanent supportive housing.
“My passion for this work just keeps growing and I go where I feel I can have the most impact,” said Ball.
“That’s really what draws me. I really like to put my time and attention into solutions that are sustainable and that can be replicated in other communities and Kelowna was just an exciting opportunity when it came up.”
She added Kelowna is the perfect size for finding a solution.
“It’s an incredible community because it’s large enough to have the resources and solutions that can come about and it’s small enough that people care and people are engaged in the conversation, and that doesn’t always look the same in some of the larger city centres in the country.”
Ball said her first two months in Kelowna were a real test for her organization and those it works with.
In November, residents sheltering in tents along Leon Avenue were moved to Recreation Avenue and the base of Knox Mountain after the city deemed it unsafe for people to sleep on the street.
The timing of the eviction couldn’t have come at a worse time, as temperatures plunged leaving organizations scrambling to get people indoors. She said the timing required her to hit the ground running.
Despite the pressure to find a temporary solution quickly, she said it proved that a housing-first strategy funded by the province in cooperation with local organizations is the key to resolving homelessness.
“I think the solution lies in expanding the community and the government’s integral capacity to serve its citizens through the spectrum of complexities of homelessness.”