“Last winter, we saw a desperate need for Our Place to offer sustenance and warm reprieve in the hours before the overnight shelters opened.

“Providing a place of hope and belonging from morning until night, seven days per week, has been a goal of Our Place since the very beginning. And this winter, starting on October 1st, we’re finally going to do it,” says Executive Director Don Evans.

Our plan is to stay open until 9 p.m., seven days per week, with expanded programming, increased access to showers, computers, and more one-to-one contact with Outreach workers, housing advocates and counsellors.

In addition to the new evening hours, we will be open all day Saturdays, Sundays and on statutory holidays. This will mean going from 55 hours to 92 hours per week.

“When extreme winter weather is forecast, we will also be transforming an area on the lower floor to accommodate up to 50 people who are homeless,” says Don.

“The Our Place family members are definitely excited,” says Outreach Manager Jordan Cooper. “It was heartbreaking during the winter when we closed our doors at five and, really, those men and women who live on the street had nowhere to go.”

Even the family members who are fortunate enough to have housing are embracing the extended hours, Jordan adds. “For many seniors and those who have mental or physical challenges, the social aspect of our Drop-In centre is vitally important.”

“We have the majority of the money in place to open longer hours during the winter,” says Don. “However, we still need to raise additional funds. Our ultimate goal is to offer these expanded hours throughout the year, which will require additional community support.”

Despite the financial challenges, Don offers up an encouraging smile, “The entire staff is driven and optimistic that we can make this a reality. And, just like the family, we’re looking to the future with excitement.”

THERE ARE NEW VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES in the evening and on weekends as Our Place extends its hours this winter. Become part of a dynamic team of compassionate people assisting Victoria’s most vulnerable citizens. To find out when the next volunteer orientation session is being held, call our Manager of Volunteers Yvonne St John at 250-388-7112 Ext. 243 or email yvonnes@ourplacesociety.com

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