Coldest Night of the Year raises nearly $50,000 for Port Alberni’s homeless | Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper

Coldest Night of the Year raises nearly $50,000 for Port Alberni’s homeless

Port Alberni, BC

As homelessness continues to be a major issue in all communities, the Sage Haven Society is working hard to raise funds and help out. For the eighth year in a row Sage Haven hosted their Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser on Saturday, Feb. 24.

Formerly known as the Alberni Community and Women’s Services Society, Sage Haven offers transitional housing and support services to women and their children In Port Alberni who face intimate partner violence.

This year 179 walkers and 38 volunteers from various businesses and groups around the community helped raise $48,907 to help the homeless.

"The funds raised will significantly contribute to the creation of warm safe spaces and services in the Alberni Valley" Ellen Frood, executive director of the Sage Haven Society, in a press release.

Data from the 2023 point-in-time count indicated that 66 per cent of the homeless in the Alberni Valley identify as Indigenous - and of those 84 per cent have reported having been to residential school or being the descendants of former students.

Tseshaht Chief Counsellor Ken Watts and Brandy Lauder, elected chief of the Hupacasath First Nation, opened the event with some encouraging words to the excited group.  

“Port Alberni continues to come together to fundraise and bring awareness to the most vulnerable,” said Watts during a later interview. “While we know so many are struggling right now, many including Tseshaht are trying to combat the opioid, housing, and mental health crisis we find ourselves in. Our thoughts and prayers are with not only our Tseshaht members struggling, but all those in the Alberni Valley. Kleco to Sage Haven and all walkers of this important local event”

MLA Josie Osborne and MP Gord Johns were also there showing support, commending the group on their efforts and joined in on the walk. After completing a two-kilometre or five-kilometre walk participants enjoyed chilli and hot drinks courtesy of the Salvation Army and Tim Hortons.  

“Sage Haven sends our thanks to all who supported the annual event this year and we are already planning for February 2025,” said Frood. “Hope to see you then!”

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