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.
COVID-19 UPDATE NOVEMBER 1, 2021:
- NO VISITORS OR OUTSIDE AGENCIES PERMITTED INSIDE THE GATES UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.
- PLEASE REVIEW OUR 'WHAT TO DONATE' LIST.
Warmland House Shelter is located at 2579 Lewis Street. It opened in 2010 as a purpose-built, entry-level community facility. The shelter was designed to be a gateway to stable housing and integrated, client focused support services to adult (19+) men and women who are coping with a variety of challenges such as mental illness, addiction and chronic health conditions.
Warmland House is a three-story residential facility with 30 shelter beds, 24 transitional apartments, a common-room, kitchen, dining room and offices. Breakfast and dinner are served daily in the dining room. Laundry and shower facilities are also provided. A physician is on site Thursday morning from 9:30am-12:30pm afternoons and a Foot Care Clinic is held the third Thursday of each month (please call the shelter 250.715.1132) to confirm the most up to date days and times). Warmland also has a volunteer and resident run garden.
The shelter is on the same property as the Cowichan Sobering and Assessment Centre; however, each operates independently of the other.
BC Housing allows the CMHA-CVB to initiate an ‘Extreme Weather Response Program’ during periods of winter weather which threatens the health and safety of homeless individuals. During these times, additional beds are made available. Typically, this program runs from November through March. Last year, the Extreme Weather Shelter is being run in partnership with Cowichan Tribes, providing an additional 30 beds at the Cowichan Tribes Gymnasium at 5574 River Road in Duncan. The extreme weather shelter was staffed from 8pm until 8am daily. Here people were provided access a warm bed with linens, as well as hot meals, warm showers, laundry and support services.
MOVING FORWARD PROGRAM:
CMHA-CVB Warmland House provides transitional housing opportunities and not landlord/tenancy rental agreements. Opportunities to secure transitional housing are based on commitment to a personal growth plan (Moving Forward Plan) developed in tandem with staff. Stable housing is part of any moving forward plan and part of an individual’s participation in Warmland’s (Moving Forward Plan Initiative).
Moving Forward Plans are part of the larger ‘Moving Forward Program Initiative’ that supports individual clients who choose to improve their personal living conditions. With the support of outside community agencies, health services, housing and in-house client support services, prospective residents are encouraged to commit to a personalized plan of personal growth and improvement.
The plan itself is regularly reviewed, modified and adapted by staff and other outside professionals (with client input) in an effort to aid individuals in keeping on track with their commitment to an overall change in their life circumstance. Clients and residents that leave Warmland always have the opportunity to return in future and to meet with staff and access programs and services available through Warmland Shelter & Outreach Program.
Warmland is more than a building; it is a refuge in a world for some who have nowhere else to turn. Warmland is a place to feel safe, to take stock, rebuild, a place to call home - a community. And that is what makes Warmland different. It’s not an institution, a set of rules and policies. It is not fear based, it is welcoming. There are miracles taking place at Warmland every day.
Above all else, Warmland is about people who care. Warmland is the team that daily brings their passion, compassion and empathy to bear upon this place. They give a “hand-up” and bring hope every single day to some of the most vulnerable in the Cowichan Valley. They save lives and give hope everyday…they just don’t realize it. In the words of one resident “…this place saved my life…”
Warmland House Shelter can be reached at 250.715.1132