Building H.O.P.E in Vernon

The past six months have not been without its challenges for Caitlyn Parkinson, but the work is well worth it. 

In October, Parkinson brought H.O.P.E to Vernon — a program aimed at helping women on the street access the resources and supplies they would not otherwise be able to find.

Parkinson is the Vernon volunteer co-ordinator for the program.

"Our women volunteers have been doing an amazing job on the streets and they are actually starting to build rapport with the women. You can't ask for much more than that."

Parkinson says the trust is there and as soon as the women see the 'pink hoodies,' they know help has arrived.

She says her volunteers help about 60-70 woman on local streets per month, which is eye-opening. 

"Some of these women have had a tough go and they have lost everything," Parkinson said. "To show compassion and show that we are here and we care about you, sometimes can be enough to give them hope." 

H.O.P.E Outreach is possible solely through donations and volunteers, which help provide women with everything from feminine hygiene products to mitts and scarfs and sleeping bags.

However, the need far outweighs the supply. 

"It breaks your heart to say to a woman, 'I'm sorry, we've run out,'" Parkinson said. "That's hard because you have a jacket on your back and you know you are going home to sleep in your bed and some of these women won't."

On a busy night, H.O.P.E volunteers may help 16 different women, on a quiet night, maybe six.

"We are always looking for jackets, and pants and mitts and scarfs, but we are also looking for personal hygiene products and feminine hygiene products." 

They are also looking for volunteers.

"We have about six to eight women who are going out consistently every weekend, and now we are welcoming men to volunteer to help with the Narcan team." 

H.O.P.E outreach holds monthly volunteer orientations at People Place on the last Sunday of the month. This month's orientation session will be held Feb. 25 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

"We are definitely trying to build our volunteer base and bring the awareness that H.O.P.E is here and what it is that we are doing."

Parkinson is looking to build to the supports that are already in place In Vernon. 

"We didn't want to step on anybody's toes and we want to be a team with the organizations that are here and that are doing an amazing job.

"It took some time, but we are doing it now."

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