The Saint Lawrence Centre is looking to raise enough money to keep its doors open throughout the summer. Project Lead Jared Gossen is hoping to raise at least $75,000 in order to staff and keep daytime services available for Grande Prairie’s homeless population.

He says that while the centre originally started as a wintertime program they found that it wasn’t just a wintertime issue.

“It became clear that homeless individuals and people living on the street really were in need of a year-round safe space for them to spend daytime in… Every spring starting last spring we’ve started a new fundraising season just to keep the doors open between April and October.”

The centre has been operating out of the Rotary House since 2015. It runs the day time drop-in program while the Rotary House takes care of all nighttime activities.

During the first spring, the doors were open twice a week and by the next year, they were open five days a week. Gossen says the extra money would help that continue along with going to cover staffing costs for the centre’s three workers.

“A big part of our fundraising in the spring will be to cover their yearly salary or at least a portion of it. Really we had been limping through previous years with only two of us and some part-timers kind of filling the gaps.”

While Gossen says they usually see a lot of people accessing the centre he’s seen a decrease lately. That’s because the province has told the Rotary House that it needs to drop its nightly population to get back to maximum capacity. Despite that, Gossen expects people will come back.

“We do have fewer people coming through the doors right now, however, we are staying in contact with everyone who has been displaced. We expect that even though they might be finding somewhere else to stay at night, we’re still going to see them through the doors of the centre during the day to do laundry [and] access the showers.”

As part of the fundraising, the centre will be holding an Open Hearts, Open Doors Dinner and Auction on April 26th. For tickets or to donate to the centre directly, visit their website or call 780-228-5734.