Homeless shelter gets a boost from 100 People Who Care

DENNIS STRANACK

Kevin Goforth walked out of the 100 People who Care meeting last week with a huge smile on his face and a cheque for $2,450 to support services provided by the Lillooet Friendship Centre Society’s (LFCS) homeless shelter.

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Goforth represented the shelter at the meeting, where two other groups also made pitches for the hefty donation, but not before Toby Mueller made a few opening remarks, which included laying out the welcome mat for people who might want to get involved with another organization with close ties to 100 People who Care and other local non-profit groups.

Mueller is board chair for Lillooet Learns, the umbrella group that, in addition to promoting learning in Lillooet, oversees 100 People who Care and runs the Lillooet Restorative Justice program as well as having helped out with the Community Banner Program

“We’re seeking new board members. We could really use a couple more engaged people who have some administrative skills, who have some human resources skills. I feel bad asking this group of people to do that because I feel like you’re already doing a lot, but maybe you know somebody who would like to gain some experience in that kind of a role, and if you do just tell them to give me a call.”

That said, it was time for Goforth to make his pitch.

“It’s the only organization that provides this kind of service to our community,” he said of the shelter.

“There is a very large cost in supplying the shelter, the average cost for one person is approximately $80 per person for one day. We have five months looking after homeless people and it is very badly needed.”

Goforth said in addition to a warm, safe place to sleep, clients are fed, clothed – including seeing to it that they have proper clothing for being outside in the winter – given access to showers and supplied with all hygiene products.

He said there are anywhere from one to 10 guests staying at the shelter at any given time, for an average of three a day during the five months the doors are open each year.

“The total cost is $36,000 for what it costs to keep the shelter open.”

LFCS also runs an extreme weather shelter and an emergency shelter.

“The emergency shelter is for, God forbid, anybody’s flooded out of their home… anybody’s home is burned… we have accommodations to bring these people in and look after them. We’ve got beds, we’ve got clothing, we’ve got everything we need to look after them until such a time as either insurance or somebody else takes over to help them out,” Goforth said.

“What we need is, we need new cots, we have seven and if we have 10 guests, we’ve got to put people on the floor. We need bedding, we need personal hygiene stuff. We need help.”

Next up was Bruce MacLennan, president of the Lillooet Legion.

“For almost 90 years the Lillooet Legion has been a foundation of this community, supporting veterans, providing a venue for meetings, weddings, celebrations of life and other functions, and raising money to donate to many local groups and organizations through the efforts and commitments of our volunteers,” he said.

McLennan read the Legion’s mission statement aloud and said he believes the organization has a proud history of living up to it. He said the Legion’s recent history has included financial distress that has resulted in reduced hours of operations and has almost led to the door being closed completely.

“We don’t want that to happen as it has in other communities; we are committed to improving our financial situation and continuing to play a vital role in Lillooet for many years to come,” he said.

“I believe, in the 90-year history of our organization, I’m the first president to come asking for funds and I’ll make it very brief, our needs are as follows.”

MacLennan said the Legion needs new chairs, explaining those there now are in poor condition and there aren’t enough to fill the space. The Legion’s ice machine has also packed it in, and will cost $1,900 to replace. McLennan said the only revenue the Legion is allowed to use for local expenses is that raised from bar sales and hall rentals–hence the push to upgrade the seating and service–and a small portion of membership dues.

“We’re requesting $3,500, or thereabouts, from 100 People who Care. I don’t want to be the last president of the legion. It’s got a history that just can’t stop. I appreciate your time.”

Kerry Ness made a pitch on behalf of the Miyazaki House, which is in need of maintenance.

“I’ve been a member for a while now, of the Miyazaki House Society, and it was formed on the idea of preserving a little bit of our history,” he said.

Ness went on to give a brief overview of the architectural style and history of the local landmark and then detailed the immediate needs for its preservation.

“The Miyazaki House Society is just trying to preserve the building doing a little bit of work to continue to make it work, so what we’re looking at is some monies to go toward with putting on, for labour and material for a roof on the new porch on the log cabin and to get some materials for the root cellar that is deteriorating in the bush. All of this is just trying to keep our history going.”

Ness said most of the money requested, about $3,200, would go into the roof, with any leftover funds earmarked for salvaging the root cellar.

“The roof needs to be rebuilt on the log house and the porches. I don’t like people to go near it, it’s that bad.”

 When Ness finished speaking there was a break while ballots were cast, giving Gail Madrigga a chance to get up and thank the group for funding previously donated to the Society for Wellness, Instruction and Mobility through Swimming (SWIMS) by 100 People who Care.

“It’s so great to come into a room full of such robust, energetic people; it’s amazing,” Madrigga said.

“Thanks for inviting me to let you know what SWIMS is doing with the money. The money that you’ve donated to SWIMS in this last year for the pool has extended the opening of the pool.” Madrigga said the donation helped to tack an additional two weeks onto each end of the REC Centre swimming pool’s season.

“Our combined funds and your funds and the money that we already raised kept the pool open for another month,” she said.

“Thank you so much for all your hard work, and for thinking of us and for helping us get this done.”

Madrigga also spoke a bit about fundraising plans SWIMS has for the future.

“It’s what we all do, so we have to talk about what’s next. Just so you know, we purchased a fundraising package… it’s called Foundation Search… it’s an organization that gives you access to hundreds of thousands of people who have money. This organization that we’ve purchased the ability to use costs a fair amount of money but we realized that the kind of money that we need to keep this pool operating, we won’t be able to get here in our community, so we thought that we would try this.”

The suspense was brought to an end a few minutes later when the counting was complete and Geoff Playfair was able to make an announcement.

“Thank you everybody, and we have a cheque here for 2,450 for the Friendship Centre.”

That drew a loud “Oh, wow” from Goforth, as well as a round of applause.

Mueller pointed out that the amount on the presentation cheque will likely increase as donations continue to trickle in.

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