Coldest Night of the Year coming on Feb. 24
Sean Chase/Daily Observer The Coldest Night of the Year will be held in Pembroke on Saturday, Feb. 24 with the start and finish line at the Pembroke Armouries. The event aims to raise $50,000 to support the Renfrew County Safe Shelter for Youth program. In the photo (left to right) are event planning committee chairman Dave Studham, Arijana Haramincic, executive director of Family and Children Services of Renfrew County, Jerry Novack, executive director of the Grind Pembroke, and Deputy Mayor Ron Gervais.
Area residents will once more be asked to brave the cold and snow as they walk and raise money for youth and adult homelessness.
The Coldest Night of the Year will be held on Saturday, Feb. 24 with participants being challenged to walk the two-kilometre, five-kilometre and 10-kilometre routes through the streets of Pembroke. The event aims to raise $50,000 to support the Renfrew County Safe Shelter for Youth, a program of Family and Children’s Services of Renfrew County.
There is a common misconception that homeless people only live on the streets of large cities across Canada. However, the reality is Pembroke and the region is not immune to this social problem, said Dave Studham, chairman of the Pembroke Coldest Night of the Year planning committee. This has never been more clearly illustrated than the clients who have been helped at the Grind Pembroke, which has provided an emergency refuge for adults since opening last year.
“The people who come through our doors have benefited from the services we have provided,” Studham said during a campaign launch Saturday at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 72.
The Grind sheltered 80 adults at their downtown location and in local motels last year representing 171 client nights of accommodation. In addition, Family and Children’s Services Safe Shelter for Youth initiative took care of 24 youth in 2017.
“We don’t just provide a safe bed,” Grind executive director Jerry Novack explained. “We’re busy working with the agencies to connect them to the services they need to help them get into housing so they can contribute to our community.”
The start and finish line for the walk will be the Pembroke Armouries on Victoria Street. Organizers are hoping to attract 40 teams of seven to eight participants, with a goal of raising $2,000 per team. Every youth walker (age 17 and under) who raises $75 or adult walker who raises $150 will receive a free event toque.
Coldest Night of the Year is a nation-wide walk-a-thon that was staged in 110 locations across Canada last year involving 20,000 participants and 80,000 donors that raised $4.5 million. The Pembroke Walk attracted 340 people raising $75,000. As folks take their stroll, they gain an appreciation for what someone with a place to stay must experience as they wander the streets. However, the programs that the fundraiser will support goes beyond just providing a temporary place to stay.
Arijana Haramincic, executive director of Family and Children Services of Renfrew County, said they have identified youth between the ages of 16 and 21 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Their goal is to help youht return to a stabilize family or establish independent living. She likened it to the old English proverb that says if “you give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
“If we help youth with skills to ensure that they can be independent in the future then we have taught them how to fish,” said Haramincic.
Coldest Night of the Year will be held on Saturday, Feb. 24 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. To register your team, visit the website at cnoy.org/pembroke or call the Grind at 613-732-9432. You can also email the Grind at email@example.com.