Every night in the Cowichan Valley, the experience of homelessness is a reality for many adults and youth - whether they are coach surfing, sleeping outdoors, or feeling unstable in their current situation. It is estimated that there are well over 300 homeless individuals in the Cowichan Valley.
Both our Warmland House Shelter and Open Door Youth Services Centre are spaces where the CMHA Cowichan Valley Branch staff can connect with and assist homeless individuals. No matter what brings someone through the door, they are always met with caring and welcoming staff, eager to offer support in whatever form is needed.
COVID-19 has presented us with many challenges. While we continue to provide service to some of our most vulnerable community members, we have put many fundraising events on hold and are challenged to meet the needs of the growing population of individuals who find themselves without adequate housing.
Here are five simple ways that you can offer your support to someone that may be hungry, cold and suffering.
1) 'Cowichan Cares: WinterWear Drive for the Homeless'
It's cold and wet out there and our homeless community is definitely feeling it. Please check your closets for gently used winter coats, ponchos, rainwear, boots, shoes, socks or umbrellas that you are no longer in need of and consider donating to Warmland House Shelter at 2579 Lewis Street. Due to COVID restrictions the front gate at Warmland is locked. Please press the buzzer to the left of the gate and staff will come out and collect your donations.
If your organisation or group is interesting in taking on a coat/boot drive for our homeless population, please send us a message
and we will help you get started.2) 2022 Calendar Fundraiser - Birds of the Cowichan Valley
The CMHA Cowichan Valley Branch has partnered with Cowichan Valley photographer Ken Thorne to produce a beautiful 2022 calendar. Many people are familiar with Ken's beautiful bird photographs. The calendar is gorgeous and would make a lovely Christmas gift. All proceeds support local mental health programming. The calendars are $25 each, which includes shipping within Canada. They are available to order online now and in person at the following supporting businesses:
Please have cash available for in-person purchases. Many thanks to these businesses and to Ken for graciously donating his beautiful images. Supplies are limited so order early to avoid disappointment.
3) Donate a Meal for Warmland Thanksgiving Dinner
Each day, the kitchen at Warmland House Shelter produces approximately 120 meals daily (breakfast and dinner). COVID distancing restrictions limit the number of persons able to eat in the warm, dry dining room to 16 people. Another 24 meals are delivered to residents in transitional apartments upstairs and the remainder are served take-out style at the shelter gate.
Last year, 110 Thanksgiving dinners were served. Most of these were distributed at the gate and the homeless ate their meals outside, many sitting on curb. The number of people that are without permanent housing is growing and so is the demand for meals. Here are a few ways you can support our annual Thanksgiving Dinner:
- Donate a frozen turkey or ham: simply purchase and drop off at the shelter (2579 Lewis St). Use the buzzer as the gate is locked and staff will come out and collect from you. You can also call ahead to make arrangements (250.715.1132). If you would like your family to be acknowledged on our social media networks for your donation, please leave your name with staff.
- Make an online meal donation on our website. If you would like to support us all year long, we invite you to use the monthly donation option available.
4) Champions for Mental Health
Is mental health important to you or to your family? Have you or a loved one struggled with your mental health? Are you looking for a meaningful way to support the work of CMHA Cowichan Valley Branch?
If you have answered 'yes' to any of the above, you may want to consider becoming a Champion for Mental Health.
5) Pre-Christmas Virtual Silent Auction
COVID-19 has presented us with many challenges. While we have continued to provide services to some of our most vulnerable community members, we have put many fundraising events on hold. To this end, we are reaching out to local artists and businesses for donations to include in our pre-Christmas ‘Santa’s Helpers Pay it Forward’ virtual silent auction to raise funds for our mental health programs in the Cowichan Valley.
We are grateful for any support you’re able to offer. All business and personal contributions will be publicly acknowledged during the silent auction, and through our social media channels. Tax receipts can be issued for the value of the donated items over $20. A Donation Form to complete and return with your donation is available upon request. We will arrange to collect donations. The virtual silent auction will run from October 25 through November 7th.
Questions? Please call or email Anne Marie
at 250.597.1372 ext 113.
CMHA - Cowichan Valley Branch