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Transition Society, Dawn to Dawn aiming for new Coldest Night of the Year fundraising target

The Coldest Night of the Year is returning to the Comox Valley, with two non-profits looking to raise more funds in their eighth year.

The Comox Valley Transition Society and Dawn to Dawn are once again partnering for the national fundraiser. Walks will take place on Feb. 25 along with fundraising to help them address homelessness and other social issues within the community.

This year, they are looking to raise $200,000 for the cause after hitting $195,000 last year. Transition society executive director Heather Ney says that while that amount is greater, the valley continually shows enormous support.

“The Comox Valley punches way above its weight class in that we are currently No. 14 in terms of total dollars raised in the standings,” said Ney. “We’re aiming for the top ten and it’s just a huge testament to the generosity and the support and compassion our community has for the homeless here.”

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Ray Windsor of Dawn to Dawn says all the proceeds stay within the Comox Valley to go back to the community, split between the two groups. He says the organization is housing about 50 people including 11 children in the valley, and some of the buildings are rentals where the fundraisers are needed.

“The money goes to provide rental supplements, food cards and we have an outreach worker that works with our clients,” said Windsor. “Another project we’re working on called Rainbow House will house queer youth in a group setting in the valley.”

Ney says funds will be used to support women who are experiencing violence to attain and maintain housing and rental supplements as well.

“We have a big project this year. Darry’s Place is a 40-unit apartment building that some of the funds will go to,” said Ney. “We’re aiming to have our first residents move in in April. It’s very exciting for us and a huge win in terms of housing and affordability for women and children.”

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Coldest Night of the Year is the two organizations’ largest annual fundraiser. They add over the years, the Comox Valley has not been immune to issues causing more homelessness in the province and country.

“The homeless crisis is amplified and getting greater across the nation and it’s not different here,” said Ney. “A lot of it is about the affordability of housing, it’s also about the stock of housing, there’s many people moving to the Comox Valley from out of town and working from home.

“Many people are working way below living wage and simply can’t afford housing and find themselves in precarious situations and the violence against women hasn’t decreased.”

Windsor adds they see much of the same from the perspective of Dawn to Dawn, with many people they know couch surfing from place to place because they cannot pay rent.

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Ney and Windsor add changes need to be made through the healthcare system, and they face challenges in trying to get housing and other amenities because they must compete in the market.

Ney thanks Island Health for making projects possible and they add more partners are needed to combat the crisis.

“Partnerships are so important. I just look at what we’ve been able to accomplish by working together,” said Windsor. “We need to work with everybody in this space whether it’s government, whether it’s non-profits, whether it’s the municipalities because that’s the only way it’s going to happen.”

Residents can participate in Coldest Night of the Year by registering as a team, donating and joining a team or walking virtually on your own time.

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More details can be found on the Coldest Night of the Year’s website.

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