“We want people to realize that there are a lot of people in our neighbourhoods who are struggling,” said Caring Place director Darrell Pilgrim.
“People who are struggling with homelessness and poverty are still people and they need to know that there is a community here that is supporting them.”
The number of homeless people in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows more than doubled in three years, according to results of a homeless census released by Metro Vancouver in 2008 – a count that’s been conducted every three years since 2005.
Ninety people were found to be homeless in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows during the 2008 Greater Vancouver Homeless Count, up from 42 in 2005.
The 17 year-round beds available for men at the Salvation Army shelter have been full since summer, while the nine beds for women are occupied 75 per cent of the time.
Come November, the shelter will open 30 extra cold-wet weather mats.
Demand for the Caring Place’s meal program, meanwhile, has continued to increase, growing this year to 9,000 meals a month from 8,000 last year.
Pilgrim believes the trickle down effect of the recession is finally hitting people who have jobs but are now struggling to make ends meet.
“We definitely see more working people coming here for assistance,” he said.
“These are good people and we just want the community to show their support and realize that this is an issue we are all dealing with.”
The Caring Place needs donations to fill gift baskets which will be given out during Homelessness Action Week Oct. 10 – 16. They need: Body and hand lotions, beauty products for women, brand name men’s deodorants and anything to make someone feel a little pampered. The shelter is located at the corner of the Haney Bypass and Lougheed Highway. Info: 604-463-8296 Ext. 112
Homelessness week events
• The Caring Place will be hosting a spa day Friday, Oct. 15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Drop in to see a dentist, foot nurse, public health nurse or hairdresser, get a manicure and pick up a gift basket.
• Enjoy a free Harvest Chilli lunch at the ACT on Friday, Oct. 15 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Donations for the Friends in Need Food Bank will be accepted at the lunch.