Local activists sleep in cars to raise funds for county homelessness

Sleeping in your car for one night is uncomfortable, difficult and cold. But if it can help others in a similar situation, it might be warmer than you think.

Sleepless in our City, an initiative of United Way Elgin Middlesex, aims to raise awareness of homelessness and poverty in the county. Last year, the event was hosted in St. Thomas and was a big success.

This year, the event has grown and will be hosted in St. Thomas on February 7 and Strathroy on February 12.

“The biggest misconception about homelessness is that it doesn’t exist here,” says Lindsay Rice, Director of Community Programming, YWCA ST. Thomas – Elgin. “In reality, a very diverse population experiences it: the neighbour who lost his job, a teenager fleeing a difficult home life, seniors on a fixed income. It just doesn’t look the same as it does in the big city.

Many individuals experiencing homelessness in our community are not seen. Homelessness may not only be sleeping outside – or “in the rough”, but it could also be sleeping in a car, an abandoned building, a shed or barn, or couch-surfing with a friend.

Last year participants in St. Thomas included Sean Dyke, Joe Preston, Karen Vecchio, Rowan Miller, Joshua Willer, Carly Kocins, Mike Kerkvliet, Alexander Aitken and Tim Smart. Together, they raised a whopping $9,326 to fight poverty and homelessness in the county—almost doubling their goal of $5,000.

This year’s goal is $15,000, with an aim to help even more people facing homelessness.

For these local volunteers it will be just one night. For some living in the county, finding safe shelter each night is an everyday reality.

“These aren’t somebody else’s problems – they belong to all of us. And together we can solve them.”

Kelly Ziegner

Pledge a sleeper to get involved!

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