The night was actually cold, especially for Burnaby.
But it didn’t matter because the party and the spirit kept people warm.
On Feb. 23, more than 285 walkers attended Burnaby’s Coldest Night of the Year Walk, raising $62,000 for two local charities, the Society To End Homelessness in Burnaby and Burnaby Community Services.
This was Burnaby’s third Coldest Night of the Year Walk For Homelessness and the biggest one yet.
Coldest Night of the Year is a fun, family-friendly national walk-a-thon and fundraiser that raises money for the hungry, homeless and hurting across Canada in 136 different communities.
Each participant walks two, five or 10 kilometres, fundraises, much-needed money and feels a hint of the challenge faced by those experiencing homelessness - particularly during the winter.
The funds raised will be used to:
- Support Burnaby’s only Outreach Resource Centre, which serves over 1,000 unique individuals each year.
- Support advocacy work, such as lobbying for warming centers, shelters and transitional housing.
- Print 12,000 weather-resistant Outreach Cards, which are updated, printed, and handed out to individuals in need by outreach workers and at the outreach centre each year.
- Supply holiday hampers for unique individuals around Christmas time.
- Support unique individuals with income tax completion and form completion for federal government programs.
“People experiencing homelessness in Burnaby have reduced access to health care and services despite 55 per cent of Burnaby’s homeless having two or more health conditions,” says Society To End Homelessness president Karen O’Shannacery. “Our society, through this fundraiser, continues to provide warm, welcoming support and basic services such as food, clothing and hygiene items to an average of 120 people per week, while encouraging and assisting them to access the services and housing that will help end or prevent homelessness. It takes a community to end homelessness, and CNOY funding also supports the Society’s collaborative planning table where diverse stakeholders work towards ending homelessness in Burnaby.”
Walkers were entertained by local musicians Rainshadow and Freedom95. Goodlife Fitness led a five-minute warm-up that got the entire gym of participants onto their feet and dancing. The Burnaby North Secondary School’s marching band “Vikings” marched people off as they performed and the crowd followed them out of the gym and started the Coldest Night of the Year walk.
The Lead Sponsor, RE/MAX Little Oak Realty Burnaby, matched all donations made during the last 5 days of the event, up to a total of $5,000. They are also excited to sponsor event again in 2020.
Supporting sponsors for the walk are: BC Housing, Burnaby Firefighters Charitable Society, Vancity, and Anthem Properties.
There were several Rest Stop Sponsors: ABC Recycling, Dignity Memorial, Hemlock Printers, Reliance Insurance Agencies
They were followed by Event Sponsors and Distance Sponsors.
Food was also donated thanks to Save On Foods and PriceSmart Foods to feed over 300 walkers, performers, and volunteers.
“The feeling in the room was that we were a community.” says Burnaby Community Services Executive Director Stephen D’Souza. “People danced to the music and cheered as others returned from their walk in the cold and dark night. Some people’s hands and feet were frozen by the time they returned from their 10km trek.”
“I have seen the difference that kindness, food and services make to people experiencing homelessness” says Society Coordinator Carol-Ann Flanagan. “The smiles and appreciation are tremendous, and their generosity to each other is amazing despite having little themselves. Providing the drop in services provides hope and connection to those of us who work towards services, housing and support on their behalf. Only with community support such as through CNOY funds can we do this."
The Society To End Homelessness In Burnabyhas been established to provide leadership, collaborative planning and services towards the reduction and ultimately, resolution of homelessness in Burnaby.
Burnaby Community Servicesprovides people who need support with a voice, resources and opportunities.
For more information: https://cnoy.org/location/burnaby