Island Crisis Care Society is gearing up for their sixth year hosting the Coldest Night of the Year walk and is encouraging Parksville Qualicum Beach residents to bundle up and join in on Feb. 22.
Violet Hayes, executive director of Island Crisis Care, said the walk provides necessary funding for their Oceanside Outreach program, which helps individuals find market housing with rent subsidies, along with assisting them in maintaining it through supports. ICCS provides what Hayes called “much needed weekend support” to these individuals.
Hayes said the fundraising so far has been slow, so they’re encouraging people to sign up soon. She said she thinks there might be less involvement so far because people think Orca Place solved the housing issue.
“People may think that we have solved a lot of the issues by housing 52 people at Orca Place,” she said. “The truth is that there is still a lot of need.”
By walking during the winter night, participants can better understand the experience of being on the streets, while raising funds for the Island Crisis Care Society.
“Even just to be out for a couple of hours, when we know that there are people out there all night,” she said. “Really appreciating all that we have… it just helps you feel like you’re part of something bigger that’s positive.”
There are currently 11 teams signed up for the walk — those interested can sign up with a team or donate at cnoy.org/location/oceansideparksville.
It’s a different route this year. The walk begins and ends at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre, where walkers will register at 4 p.m., turn in the results of their fundraising efforts, and return at the end of the evening. Participants can walk a two-, five- or 10-kilometre iroute. The walk starts at 5:15 p.m. The walk will include an opening ceremony, where an Oceanside Outreach client will speak about their experience.
So far, donations have hit the 25 per cent mark at $10,264. The organization hopes to raise a total of $40,000.