UPDATE: The Open Hearts Open Doors fundraiser has been postponed until a later date.
The Saint Lawrence Centre is hoping the generosity shown by Grande Prairie can help it get through the spring and summer months. It is prepping for its their largest annual fundraiser, Open Hearts Open Doors.
SLC Project Lead Jared Gossen says, despite an economic downturn and a lot of uncertainty about the future, he hopes those in the region can find a way to help out those who need it most.
“I think everybody is well aware of the hardship our community is enduring and that usually trickles down in a disproportionate way to those living on the street. Last year between the dinner and the associated raffles we brought in around $40,000, and that pays for a good portion of a lot of staffing costs and just keeping the doors open,” he adds.
The Saint Lawrence Centre provides basic needs for Grande Prairie’s street engaged population, with things like washrooms, showers, coffee and snacks, and computers during daytime hours.
At this point, Gossen says the program will have to slash its schedule down to five days a week in the coming months. While not setting a specific fundraising goal, he believes anything above $30,000 will get the Saint Lawrence Centre closer to the goal of remaining open and available seven days a week during the warmer months.
Gossen adds the community has always taken good care of the Saint Lawrence Centre, as every spring there seems to be a different hardship that they endure.
“Whether it was the first couple of years… and not having enough financial support to stay open full time,” he says. “Couple years down the road we had some bumps with being able to operate out of our current location at Rotary House, [but] each of these challenges get smoothed out by our amazing partners, not only the City of Grande Prairie but the Rotary Clubs and the business community just kind of looking after us.”
The shelter originally opened at Rotary House in 2015 but closed its doors at the end of March 2019 to give the overnight shelter some time to sort out overcrowding issues.
The 3rd annual Open Hearts Open Doors will take place at the Holiday Inn on April 17th. Doors open at 6 p.m. and dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. On top of dinner, the event will also have a live auction and entertainment.
More information and tickets can be found on the Open Hearts Open Doors Eventbrite page.