The cold and damp weather today is a great reminder that some folks in the city need your help as winter approaches.
Barrie Out Of The Cold had their first of two volunteer and recruitment and info nights at City Hall last night. The local organization is in their 20th year of providing meals and emergency shelter to the area’s homeless. Kelly Watson is the president and chair of the BOTC and has been on the board for ten years. Every year brings new challenges for Watson and her team and along with them, higher numbers of people in need.
“We are seeing rapid growth of people in need in Barrie,” said Watson. “In 2010 we did an analysis and found that we averaged about 10 people a night and last year we found it was up to 32, that’s a 230 per cent growth in seven years and shows we are drastically going up. We require about 1,000 volunteers from Nov. 14 to the end of April.”
Last night the recruitment campaign in the city hall rotunda had respectable numbers with hopes that the second night on Oct. 16 will bring in even more people that will help with the different shifts the group has. Set up in five churches throughout the city, BOTC is made up of four shifts that are designed to not only give folks many smiling faces to see as they come through the doors, but to also help volunteers who can’t stay for too long but want to help.
“We realize that there are a large number of people who want to give back and help out but because of work or other obligations they can’t be here for too many hours,” said Watson. “There are four different shifts that are either three hours, six hours or two hours. It really isn’t a lot of work and we always have first-timers come out who have only signed up for minimal shifts who end up pulling extra time because they get so much out of this. It’s the community that makes us who we are and we’re extremely grateful.”
While BOTC loves the support and hospitality from the churches it works with, the growing numbers of those in need has the organization on the look-out for a bigger location.
“Being our 20th year with the host churches is something we are excited for but we also know we could do better in the community so we are working actively with partnering agencies to see if we fit in to a solution that would work within one location,” said Watson.
For now, the BOTC recruitment is underway as is the drive to raise funds, donations and awareness. The organization’s Socktober event is also here and was named for the need of warm socks for those who’s feet are wet and cold after a day in the elements. Program Coordinator Stacey Daoust wants people to know that on top of volunteering, they can also give much needed items to help out. Daoust says that there are lots of items that are needed and any amount will help.
“Its named Socktober but we need more than just socks obviously,” said Daoust. “Long underwear, warm clothes, mittens and those warming pads that you put in your socks and gloves as well, we can use all of that. Cash donations help us provide what is needed too and even decaffeinated coffee can go a long way; most of us take a cup of coffee for granted but the folks who come through here really appreciate it.”
If you’re thought is that you’re too busy and don’t know how you’ll fit the time in, Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman signed up last night and encourages all to as well.
“Oh yes I’m all signed up, said Lehman. “Out of the Cold literally saves people's lives, and they can't do that without lots of volunteers. This is a great way to give back to your community and help those who need it most.”
Anyone looking to help is asked to come out Monday, Oct. 16 to the Barrie City Hall rotunda from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and sign up for one or more of the many shifts that are offered.
The volunteer locations are:
- Monday’s at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church
- Tuesday’s at Bethel Community Church
- Wednesday and Thursday at St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church
- Friday’s at Trinity Anglican Church
- Saturday and Sunday at Collier Street United Church
The shifts are:
- First shift - dinner preparation and clean up from 5 to 8 p.m.
- Second shift - socialize with guests from 8 to 11 p.m.
- Third shift - overnight supervision from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
- Fourth shift - breakfast preparation and clean up
All donations can be dropped off at the church locations and for more information you can check out the BOTC website.