TRAIL –The Federal Closer to Home project overseen by Career Development Services (CDS) and the provincial La Nina Extreme Weather Emergency Shelter have helped many area residents over the past year.
The Greater Trail as a whole has benefited from programs provided by both federal and provincial governments.
Those funds allowed the Shelter to cover administration and support costs through CDS, and CDS became the bridge to security for many shelter clients.
Shelter numbers were actually down this year, from over 40 people staying an average of 3.5 nights to around 12 staying an average of less than one night.
How did this happen in a year when food bank numbers increased by over 20 per cent?
“Local community support, and know-how,” say shelter co-chairs Major Wilf Harbin of the Salvation Army and diaconal minister Keith Simmonds of Trail’s United Church.
They went on to tell some of the story of what was done and who stepped up to do it.
Jan Morton of the Skills Centre spent six months convincing the federal government the group could make great use of funds to combat homelessness.
Once she had them in place she lined up Sheila Adcock and the folks at Career Development Services to implement an Outreach Worker Program to help people who were homeless, or close to it.
They were connected with local landlords who wanted to help and appreciated the support offered by CDS.
“It seemed natural to ask CDS to run the shelter too,” said Simmonds.
“They were already connecting with people who would have come to us, and we knew they’d be able to place the ones we were seeing in the decent, affordable, and supportive housing they needed.”
Running anything, however, costs money.
Someone has to schedule staff, keep the books, pay the bills and ensure people (clients and staff) are well and fairly treated.
Someone has to supervise, support and otherwise do all that’s needed to keep things up and running.
That someone usually has bills to pay, and a family to feed as well.
“That’s where Kootenay Savings and other local groups came in,” said Major Harbin.
“They glued the whole thing together. With their help we were able to link provincial support at the shelter to the federal program managed by the Skills Centre.
“CDS wove in local landlords, added support from other agencies where clients needed it, and helped us reduce our numbers from over 40 to somewhere around 12. They almost totally eliminated our repeat business by finding homes for those in need of them.”
The Shelter’s Ad-Hoc Operating Committee met last week to consider plans for the year ahead, and to give thanks for a community gifted with resourceful people and dedicated organizations who are able to do so much, for so many.