eSpirit Jan 7

Out of the Cold Pilot Project at Beach United

As we live through one of the coldest winters in recent memory, it’s painful to think of the men and women in this City who do not have a home or even a warm place to sleep. For more than 30 years, churches and other faith communities across the City have been responding to the needs of homeless people through the Out of the Cold Program. Every night, from November to April, there is one or more location in the City where homeless people can get a hot meal and a warm bed.

In the Beach community that location is at St. Aidan’s Anglican Church, where on Monday nights 25 or so people can find a mat on the floor for the night, and many more come for dinner. Some of the volunteers that provide leadership to the Out of the Cold program at St. Aidan’s are members of Beach United Church: one of whom is Jim Winn. We have been talking with St. Aidan’s Out of the Cold for some time about how Beach United Church will support the program next year when St. Aidan’s undergoes major renovations. We have committed to hosting the Out of the Cold program in our building next season, beginning in November 2018

This year, however, we have decided to get a little head start, a “new beginning”, as Karen talked about on New Year’s Eve. In cooperation with St. Aidan’s Out of the Cold and Dixon Hall, we will host a small pilot program here at Beach United, which will go a step beyond the Out of the Cold to provide skill development. Dixon Hall will identify a small number of regular users of the Out of the Cold program who are ready to move into permanent housing. To help them prepare for that move to housing, the pilot program will support participants to learn skills they need to be independent, like cooking, budgeting and self care. To begin the guests will participate in preparing their own dinner and cleaning up after. We will work with the participants to identify the skills they want to learn and seek out people who can help them to learn.

The program will be held here at Beach United every Monday night starting on January 8 and continue ’till April. Guests will arrive around 4:00 and leave by 8:00 on Tuesday morning. At this point, St. Aidan’s Out of the Cold has enough volunteers to manage the program, but we will keep you informed of any support that we need from you as the program unfolds. This pilot project is just one of the ways in which we live out our commitment to social justice here at Beach United, focussing on practical ways in which we can make a difference for people who are homeless and in need of affordable housing.

Paul Dowling, Justice Seeking Animator