With the forecast looking rather wet this week, we are thankful to cuddle up at home with a hot drink, Netflix, and our fuzzy PJs.
But what about those who don’t have a warm place to sleep? What happens to the 30 000 Canadians who experience homelessness on any given night?
On Thursday night, 29 local executives, celebrities, and community leaders braved the Vancouver rain to participate in the annual Sleep Out experience in support of Covenant House. For the third year in a row, participants experienced a night sleeping on the streets only one block east of Granville Street.
The absence of heat, shelter, and security hit home for the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association’s own Charles Gauthier. As a participant in this year’s Sleep Out, Gauthier managed to grab a mere two hours of shut eye in the damp, uncomfortable conditions. “We had the chance to live the experience, to get the flavour of what its like [for people sleeping on the streets]”, Gauthier reflected.
In addition to sleeping in a soaked sleeping bag (sans pillow), Gauthier and the 38 other participating Vancouverites spoke with former street youth about the role Covenant House played in getting them back on their feet. Gauthier says “street youth often come from well-established families, but the youth fall on hard times. Without the proper support system they end up sleeping on the street.” That’s where Covenant House steps in, providing food, shelter, clothing, and counselling to over 700 youth at any given time.
This year, the Sleep Out raised $385,000, which doubles the funds raised in 2013. Money raised will go toward the Covenant House Crisis Program.