August 29, 2015


Latest News

Sleepout an eye-opener for CEOs; donations exceed expectations

One hundred of the city’s movers and shakers spent a chilly evening sleeping outside at Portage and Main Thursday night to raise cash and awareness for Winnipeg’s homeless.

The community and business leaders were taking part in the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s third annual CEO Sleepout, which supports programs to get people off the streets and into decent jobs and housing.

Grace Scott, with Aboriginal Youth Opportunities, tries to get a few more minutes of sleep Friday morning. She was among the 100 community and business leaders that took part in the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ's third annual CEO Sleepout at Portage and Main to raise money for employment programs for the homeless, such as Siloam Mission's Mission: Off the Streets Team.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Grace Scott, with Aboriginal Youth Opportunities, tries to get a few more minutes of sleep Friday morning. She was among the 100 community and business leaders that took part in the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ's third annual CEO Sleepout at Portage and Main to raise money for employment programs for the homeless, such as Siloam Mission's Mission: Off the Streets Team. Photo Store

Along with huddling together in sleeping bags at the historic intersection, the CEOs, politicians and media personalities were treated to soup and coffee from a Salvation Army truck and toured local agencies serving the homeless.

Their eyes were opened during a midnight tour of Siloam Mission, a sort of one-stop shop for the homeless, providing food, shelter, medical services, art programs and help finding jobs.

Together they helped raise $191,644 to employ people who are homeless. Organizers had set a fundraising goal of $150,000. Now, they're shooting to shatter the $200,000 mark.

"I am personally overwhelmed by the generosity of Winnipeggers and the passion shown by our CEOs and community leaders who rallied around this event and this cause," said Stefano Grande, Downtown BIZ executive director, who also slept out.

"I can feel this is just the start of real change happening in terms of homelessness and poverty issues in our city."

Siloam’s executive director, Floyd Perras, who took part in the sleepout, told the visitors the most important things the mission provides are dignity and a sense of community.

Throughout much of the night, the participants, instead of sleeping, chatted with a trickle of homeless Winnipeggers who dropped by the event in front of 201 Portage Ave. for a cup of coffee and a bite to eat.

Portage Tory MLA Ian Wishart said he survived sleeping under the stars, but the event drove home the importance of providing shelter to the most needy.

"It makes the case that everybody needs housing," Wishart, his party’s housing critic, said this morning. "One night is nothing. If we did this every night, what would we be like then?"

A homeless man who gave his name as "Brad" offered the event participants a glimpse of the harsh reality of life on the streets, saying he and his ailing wife survive by sleeping in local parking garages, even during brutally cold winters.

He described himself as a "beggar" as opposed to a "panhandler" and said he appreciates the work done by the downtown BIZ to help find housing and employment for the homeless. He added his Christian faith is one of the few things that sustains him in his life on the streets.

The sleepout is over, but donations can still be made at www.changeforthebetter.org. Just click the "Donate Now" button under the photo of your favorite CEO or celebrity, including Free Press columnist Doug Speirs.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.

Scroll down to load more

Top