Groups mobilize to help homeless get through blizzard


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AS they prepare for the blizzard that’s about to wallop southern Manitoba, community organizations that help Winnipeg’s homeless are banding together to ensure no one gets left out.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/04/2022 (354 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

AS they prepare for the blizzard that’s about to wallop southern Manitoba, community organizations that help Winnipeg’s homeless are banding together to ensure no one gets left out.

“There is obviously a sense of nervousness,” said Tessa Whitecloud, CEO of Siloam Mission. “At the same time, there’s a knowledge that the right people are being brought around the table to figure out how we can best resource folks.”

The Salvation Army Centre of Hope, Siloam Mission, Main Street Project (MSP) and dozens of other organizations will keep in constant contact during the blizzard. If services at one resource run out or are taxed, others will step up to accommodate people seeking shelter, Whitecloud said.

The Centre of Hope, Siloam and MSP, which currently operates out of the Salvation Army’s Weetemah Centre at 324 Logan Ave., have a collective shelter capacity of 449 beds.

“We’re all preparing for Armageddon over here. That’s what it sounds like it may be,” said Marion Willis, executive director of St. Boniface Street Links, which helps people find shelter and get help for addictions.

The outreach program will not let the blizzard get in the way of helping its vulnerable clients. The goal is to transport unhoused people to shelters before the storm strikes.

Her biggest concern is the state of city roads, Willis said.

Outreach teams across the city will be ready to mobilize, but if roads are impassable because of drifting snow and snowbanks, they might not be stopped in their tracks.

“When it comes to weather events like this, outreach knows no bounds,” Willis said. “But I do worry, will our outreach workforce be able to come to work (Wednesday)?”

The blizzard, which Environment Canada predicts could be the largest in more than two decades, is expected to engulf much of the southern part of the province in heavy snow, and it could result in power outages and render roads impassable. Between 30 cm to 50 cm of snow is expected, accompanied by winds gusting up to 90 km/h. Conditions are expected to last into Friday.

In the West End, staff at Sunshine House are rapidly preparing kits for people who may find themselves without access to food, clothing, and emergency supplies.

The resource centre cancelled plans to host an Easter dinner and instead will put food into kits that can be distributed to people in need.

On Monday, executive director Levi Foy spent an additional $1,800 — the organization’s entire two-week meal budget — on food.

The Sunshine House team was able to prepare roughly 150 meal kits after getting donations from the Harvest Manitoba food bank.

“It feels like the first three days before we got our first case of COVID in Manitoba, meaning that, you kind of imagine what it’s going to look like… but we don’t know what to anticipate,” Foy said.

Willis, Whitecloud and Foy said the COVID-19 pandemic has led to greater co-operation between community groups.

One group will step up when another can’t meet the need.

“What we’ve learned from the last two-and-a-half years is that communities are the only ones who are really going to do it,” Foy said.


Updated on Tuesday, April 12, 2022 7:20 PM CDT: Photo added.

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