Students, residents getting together to raise awareness for Barrie’s homeless
Students from Everest College are going to be camping out Friday night at Barrie City Hall for the Night in the Cold fundraiser to help pay for a new van at the David Busby Street Centre. Buoyed by auctions, music and warm drinks, the students hope the evening also brings attention to the need for support for the project. J.T. MCVEIGH/BARRIE EXAMINER
Students from Everest College will brave the elements to raise awareness for Barrie’s homeless population and the need for change in the city.
More than 100 residents are expected to camp out at city hall from 6 p.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Saturday to help raise money to purchase a new outreach van for the David Busby Street Centre, but Jonh Monk, a member of Everest College's ambassadors group which is organizing the event, said there’s a bit more to the Night in the Cold event than sleeping under the stars. The event was the brainchild of Dennis Soules, who heads up the group, along with Steve Cormier and Kerry-Lynn Pushon.
“We’re taking donations and pledges. Throughout the night we’re also hoping a lot of people come out and for some community involvement,” Monk said. “We also want to raise awareness for the homeless in Simcoe County.”
Residents can expect to see a group of tents set up in front of city hall when 24-year-old Monk is joined by Everest students as they plan to bundle up and learn what life on the street is all about.
“We’ve been lucky enough that city hall is donating the space for the night,” he said. “So hopefully it’s going to be a big event and turn into an annual thing.”
Sara Peddle, executive director of the Busby Centre, said she is proud of the support and dedication many students have for the centre and feels overwhelmed by their generosity.
“As a graduate of Everest College I am proud of the efforts of the current students,” Peddle said. “It is great to see this group, not just resting with the theory of their studies in addictions and community service, but also by showing their social conscience and being active in their community.”
The community will directly benefit from the hard work and the proceeds will help make a difference in the lives of those who need it most.
“The awareness and proceeds that this event will raise will directly benefit the many vulnerable individuals and families in our community who require the assistance of the David Busby Street Centre,” she said, adding “These students should be commended and supported for their efforts.”
Councillors Lynn Strachan from Ward 2 and Peter Silveira from Ward 5 will be involved and Conservative MPP Rod Jackson will also be on hand to show his support while enjoying a barbeque, live local music and raffles.
To help purchase a new van, students set a goal of raising $3,000, but Monk was hopeful when he said “but realistically I think we’ll be going above and beyond that.”
“We want more people to get involved and help better the city of Barrie because you go downtown you see a lot of people that are on the street,” he said. “We want people to know that homelessness in Barrie is insane right now, and it’s ridiculous.”
The camp out will be held the same night Canadian rockers Blue Rodeo take the stage at the Barrie Molson Centre during Big Roof Fest to help raise money for the Busby Centre and the Salvation Army’s Barrie Bayside Mission Centre.
The band has included the local show on their country-wide tour in celebration of the 25th anniversary of their first record, Outskirts.
Money raised will help both charities support the city’s needy by financially supporting outreach assistance, soup kitchens, a men’s shelter, provide medical care and maintain programs at the daily drop-in centres.
As an addictions student, Monk said he has always been community-minded and camping in the cold is just another endeavor to help those in need.
“I try to keep involved and I used to volunteer at Youth Haven,” he said. “I always try to do things that better the community and help better my character and for it to be a learning thing.”
Residents and charity supporters are urged to stop by and speak with participants, but also to get involved and help the services helping the city.
“It’s to help people understand that there’s still a need. I’ve talked to people who thing that there’s no homeless and say ‘it’s nothing. It’s not as big as it sounds’,” Monk said. “But seriously, come down here (downtown) and get out of your office and come hangout with us so we can show you that it’s actually a real thing."
Tickets for the Big Roof Fest event are $65 each. For more information, visit www.impactlive.ca.