Our Place Society

Our Place Society

September 24, 2014 11:00 ET

Our Place Expands Winter Hours

Pilot Program Offers Food and Shelter Into the Evening

VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Sept. 24, 2014) - Being open in the evening has been a goal of Our Place since its doors first opened in 2007, and beginning October 1st, it's finally becoming a reality.

"Last winter, we saw a desperate need for Our Place to offer sustenance and warm reprieve in the hours before the overnight shelters opened. Providing a place of hope and belonging from morning until night, seven days per week, has been a goal of Our Place since the very beginning. And this winter, we're finally going to do it," says Our Place Executive Director Don Evans.

New winter hours will see the inner-city community centre open from early morning until 9 p.m., seven days per week, with expanded programming, increased access to showers, computers, and more one-to-one contact with Outreach workers, housing advocates and counsellors.

In addition to the new evening hours, Our Place will be open longer hours on weekends and statutory holidays. This will mean going from 55 hours to 92 hours per week.

"When extreme winter weather is forecast, we will also be transforming an area on the lower floor to accommodate up to 50 people who are homeless," says Evans.

"The Our Place family members are definitely excited," says Outreach Manager Jordan Cooper. "It was heartbreaking during the winter when we closed our doors at five and, really, those men and women who live on the street had nowhere to go."

Even the family members who are fortunate enough to have housing are embracing the extended hours, Jordan adds. "For many seniors and those who have mental or physical challenges, the social aspect of our Drop-In centre is vitally important."

"We have the majority of the money in place to open longer hours during the winter," says Evans. "However, this is still a pilot program and we need to raise additional funds. Our ultimate goal is to offer these expanded hours throughout the year, which will require additional community support."

Despite the financial challenges, Evans offers up an encouraging smile, "The entire staff is driven and optimistic that we can make this a reality. And, just like the family, we're looking to the future with excitement."

With expanded hours come new opportunities for volunteers. Our Place is actively seeking volunteers for its evening and weekend shifts.

Beginning Oct. 1, the new winter hours are:

Monday to Friday 7am - 9pm

Saturday & Sunday 10am - 9pm

Statutory Holidays 10am - 6pm

Our Place is a unique inner-city community centre serving Greater Victoria's most vulnerable: working poor, impoverished elderly, mentally and physically challenged, addicted and the homeless. Individuals and businesses provide the majority of financial support for its programs and services. Our Place provides 45 transitional housing units, over 1,200 meals per day, hot showers, free clothing, counseling and outreach services. Most importantly, it provides a sense of hope and belonging to our neighbours in need.

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