Over the last two years Emmanuel has hosted a shelter for the homeless during the winter months. Starting in November and finishing at the end of March, the program saw clients receive a warm meal in the evening, accessibility to showers, a clean bed, and a breakfast in the morning before they went on with their day. Up to 15 clients stayed at the shelter each night.
The shelter was established because we saw a pressing need to do something to address the homelessness situation in our community. Funds were generously provided by BC Housing, as well as through business and individual donations. Volunteers came from multiple churches and the community as a whole.
Each year we re-evaluate our role as a church in addressing homelessness. The Mat program has now become its own separate society from the church (West Kelowna Shelter Society), and we will work alongside the society to find the best possible solution for helping those in desperate situations. We believe that although the church building has the minimal amount of infrastructure required to help run a shelter, the best solution for addressing homelessness in West Kelowna is to have a stand alone shelter with all the amenities and staffing required for such a project. Currently, the society is looking for funding and locations to help best meet this need. In the mean time, Emmanuel will be hosting the shelter again during the 2017/2018 season, starting November 1st, 2017.
We remained committed as a church community to do whatever we can do with the resources given to us to advocate for a greater West Kelowna community strategy for addressing homelessness, and to provide best solutions and practices to these concerns that affect us all.