One of the Okanagan’s most-needed community resources has opened the doors to its shelter for the winter season and according to some weather projections it will be just in time.
Kelowna’s Inn from the Cold (IFTC), a local seasonal shelter with a 17-year history of providing a safe and welcoming environment for people experiencing homelessness, began offering shelter to residents on Nov. 1 and with an unseasonably cold winter approaching, Executive Director Jan Schulz says the resource is needed now more than ever.
“Many of our residents struggle to find a place to sleep at night,” she said. “And during the warmer months, the need for indoor shelter isn’t as pressing. However, once the temperature drops, it becomes much more challenging and our goal is to ensure the homeless members of our community have a safe and comfortable place to spend the night.”
The 2017 Farmers Almanac is predicting below normal temperatures as well as above average precipitation for the Southern Interior – a combination that can make overnight outdoor conditions especially difficult. While staff and volunteers at IFTC can’t do much about mother nature, their efforts to provide the best care to guests at the shelter can make a huge difference in the lives of many.
“We like to think of ourselves as small but mighty,” said Schulz. “There is a huge need for shelter during the cold months and every bed we can provide goes a long way to supporting some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”
IFTC has 35 beds and is available to men and women, transgender, couples, pets, and individuals with various barriers. Upon arrival, a vulnerability assessment is completed and priority sequence is determined.
As a volunteer-based, charity organization that relies on donations and fundraising efforts to cover operating expenses, IFTC is grateful to everyone who has donated their time, efforts, and monies.
“The support we receive from our volunteers and from donors is really what keeps the doors to our shelter open,” said Mark Dixon, IFTC Board President. “We operate for the five coldest months of the year and during that time we rely on hundreds of volunteer shifts to ensure our community’s homeless have a warm place to sleep. I couldn’t be more grateful for the support we receive from all of those individuals who give of their time and resources.”
IFTC offers a number of other services and programs, including:
• Chandler House – providing permanent housing for eight men who were previously chronically homeless.
• Inn Home Support Program – supporting persons who were formally marginalized and homeless, and can benefit from the support and advocacy this program offers.
• Case Management – connecting someone experiencing homelessness with required support services.
• Free Store – providing free items such as clothing, outdoor gear and toiletries to those in need.
• Kelowna Kodiaks – providing the homeless and marginalized members of the community an opportunity to participate and benefit from the team-building sport of soccer.