The Peace River Out of the Cold Shelter has a new day-to-day operator, and the success of the pilot program that started in January is expected to carry on. Tenant Relations Officer Marc Boychuck says the Sagitawa Friendship Society is now leading the charge to keep those facing homelessness safe at night, which brings the project full circle.
“That was our intention right from the beginning of the operation, which makes it amazing,” he says. “To see that type of collaboration between two completely different organizations and societies was just wonderful to be part of.”
Boychuk says the statistics from the first full winter paint an interesting picture. Between January and April, 52 people used the shelter for a total of 308 visits. He notes there was a wide age range, from 19 to 73 years old.
Boychuk adds he still gets emotional when thinking about those who came in to use the nighttime shelter for the first time, and how quickly they were made to feel at home.
“Some people will literally shock you that show up at the shelter, and what they’re going through, it’s heartwrenching some days; it’s really hard to see people struggle like that. To see their expressions and demeanour change when they run into a couple of people who care about them is an amazing thing.”
The nighttime shelter continues to operate with regional partners including Alberta Health Services, the RCMP, and the Peace Regional Women’s Shelter.