Grass roots homeless shelter
Sep 28, 2012 / 5:00 am
Every Wednesday morning Mary-Anne Verge gets up at the crack of dawn and hits the streets of Penticton on a mission of mercy.
Along with employees from area non-profits, Verge seeks out people sleeping under bridges and in alleys to offer advice on where to get help.
To further assist, she and other members of The Lighthouse Low Barrier Shelter group, hope to open a low barrier homeless shelter in the South Okanagan.
“There is nothing that exists in Penticton for people just out of jail, for women unless they are fleeing abuse and anybody who has had a drink or used drugs,” she said at a meeting Thursday night at the Ramada Inn. “The most vulnerable are not getting the help they need.”
The small group formed about four months ago in response to what they believe is a growing homeless population in the city.
They looked at past studies on homelessness done in Oliver and Osoyoos and visited the Kelowna Gospel Mission to learn how it goes about sheltering those in need.
Based on their research they created a mission statement whereby they seek to end homelessness of the most vulnerable men and women by offering them an easily accessible and safe shelter.
At the first meeting, attended by about 20 people including Councillor Judy Sentes, Verge said they intend to become a nonprofit and are seeking volunteers. Fund-raising and finding a location are among their immediate concerns..
Ultimately, the group is seeking a leased facility to house eight men and two women to start.
Area resident Melanie Gale said she was eager to help because she sees people on the street who don’t have anywhere to be.
“I think Penticton is a city that kicks issues like this under the rug,” she said. “But homelessness is a problem that exists here, and it can be anyone, just certain life circumstances get in the way.”
Verge, an integrated outreach worker for the Ministry of Social Development, believes if the community comes together the plan will take shape.
“On average a person living on the street only lives to age 50, they become ill and often get beaten up,” she said. “We need something to help people throughout the South Okanagan."
The next meeting of The Lighthouse Low Barrier Shelter will be held at 7 p.m., Oct. 11 at the British Columbia Schizophrenia Society office, 203 Martin Street.
Read more Penticton News
City of Penticton
Penticton Discussion Forum
Penticton & Wine Country Chamber
Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen
District of Summerland
Summerland Chamber & Tourism
Town of Oliver
Town of Osoyoos
Town of Keremeos
School District 67 - Okanagan Skaha
School District 53 - Okanagan Similkameen
- Go for green cycling May 18
- Elite fire May 17
- A Storm drops in on students May 17
- Clublife expands in Penticton May 17
- Thieves rip off local group May 17