Marnie McLachlan of the Campbell River Women’s Centre (left) and Diane Palmer of the Campbell River and North Island Transition Society don the new toques they had made for this year’s Coldest Night of the Year walk, happening Feb. 22 in downtown Campbell River. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Campbell River’s Coldest Night of the Year event fills both a financial and social need

Saturday, Feb. 22 event funds much-needed services provided by Transition Society

The organizers of the upcoming Coldest Night Of The Year fundraiser in Campbell River are looking for walkers, contributors and volunteers to help them reach their ambitious goal and help the homeless and struggling members of our community.

The need for supports for these folks has never been greater, according to Marnie McLachlan with the Campbell River Women’s Centre. She would know, too, because she’s been involved in the centre – first as a volunteer, and now as a women’s support worker – since 1986. That’s 33 years for those keeping score.

When she started at the centre, she says, there were two coordinators and the centre was running over 40 hours per week of programming.

“But in 2002, women’s centres across B.C. lost all their funding overnight when the provincial Liberal government came into power,” McLachlan says, “and as a result, there are only a handful of women’s centres functioning in B.C. Some made the decision to become family centres, but our board decided that we were going to continue to be an organization run by women, for women…with our sole funding being gaming. We’ve had to drop our ongoing programming – whether it’s around anger management or self-esteem work, that kind of stuff – all we can do is keep the doors open and provide crisis support services for women, so women can come in off the street and get support right away and we can help them work out a plan. They come in for everything from homelessness to violence to mental health issues, and we are able to sit down one-on-one with them and help them develop whatever those next steps may be to get themselves out of crisis. There are not a lot of agencies in town that have the ability and flexibility to do that.”

But despite the lack of funding, the need for its services has only continued to grow. Last year the centre saw over 5,500 women come through its doors.

That’s an average of 470 to 500 women a month using the centre, McLachlan says, “and when you consider we’re only open 20 hours a week and have a core staff of 2.5 people, it’s pretty amazing.”

This will be the third year that the Campbell River and North Island Transition Society (CRNITS) – which now oversees the operation of the centre – has organized and been the benficiaries of the funds raised from the Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) walk here in Campbell River, which is coming up on Saturday, Feb. 22.TThe event raises desperately-needed funds to help the centre, along with the other services the society offers, such as the Ann Elmore Transition House, open and operating.

They are hoping to raise $35,000 from this year’s event, but in order to do so, they need help.

“We need to get some team captains to champion this,” says event organizer Diane Palmer. “And they can then recruit walkers and start raising some funds. There are also prizes for the biggest team, most funds raised, that kind of thing, so the earlier they start, the better chance they’ll have at those,” she adds with a laugh.

She says it’s a great event for local businesses to get involved in, as well.

“It’s really a great team-building exercise, and they can come out in their business’ shirts and jackets and show the community that they have support for the great things we do, and know that all of the money they’re raising go towards the Transition Society’s efforts here in the community,” Palmer says.

They also need a few volunteers to help direct traffic on the day, serve refreshments and just generally lend a hand. And for those who can’t make it out to participate or volunteer, monetary donations are more than welcome, of course.

The walk begins at 5:15 after some announcements and thanks at 5. It will begin and end at the Navy League Hall on 13th Avenue and coffee, hot chocolate and chilli will again be served following the walk.

Head over to CNOY.org/location/campbellriver to sign up a team – or even join an open team accepting more registrants – and find out more about the event and what you’ll be supporting by getting involved.

Any questions can go to Palmer directly at 250-287-7384 or by email at transitions@annelmorehouse.ca



miked@campbellrivermirror.com

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