Last night Sharon and I attended the Homeward Trust Volunteer Appreciation event at The Billiard Club on Whyte Avenue. Volunteers who helped at either Homeless Connect or the Homeless Count were invited to attend. Everyone received a complimentary drink and was entered into a draw for door prizes. In addition to simply saying “thank you”, Homeward Trust showed two videos produced by local firm Bearpaw Media Productions. I was quite impressed with the quality of both videos, and thought they served as an excellent introduction to both the Homeless Count and Homeless Connect. I hope Homeward Trust puts the videos up on their website, but I’m not holding my breath.
Homeward Trust also shared some information about the results of this year’s count. They didn’t release the report today as promised, but here’s what they told us last night:
- The number of homeless individuals counted in 2008 was 3006 3079, up from 2618 in 2006.
- The count lasted 17 hours and involved 180 agencies and over 220 volunteers.
- Over 80% of the volunteers this year were new, and Homeward Trust did not get as many volunteers as they had hoped for.
I’ll update this post with a link to the final report as soon as it becomes available. You can find the results of the previous counts here.
Sharon wrote about our experience volunteering for the Homeless Count back in October. I enjoyed the quick conversations we had with people on the street, though our route along 107th avenue was mostly empty. It was a little awkward asking everyone we encountered the required questions, but we got better at it. I was happy to be able to help out, and I’d be interested in doing it again next time!
What’s next for Homeward Trust? They’ve just launched the annual Toque Campaign. Now in its 13th year, the Raising the Roof initiative is a way to raise funds and awareness in the fight against homelessness in Canada. Since 1997, over 575,000 toques have been sold to Canadians! I bought one last night for $10 (the minimum donation). Don’t forget to wear your toque to show your support on Toque Tuesday, which takes place on February 3rd, 2009.
Finally, Homeward Trust is already planning for the next Homeless Connect event to take place sometime in the spring. The event on October 5th was a huge success, with over 1500 homeless people getting a unique opportunity to access over 50 services. I was under the impression you had to be affiliated with one of the participating agencies to help out, but that’s not the case! I’ll be volunteering for the next one. Maybe I can help people use the computer and get on the Internet or something.
Thanks to Homeward Trust for their excellent work and the opportunity to help out!
UPDATE (11/22/2008): Homeward Trust finally released the report to the media yesterday, the total number is 3079. They still haven’t posted it to their website.
UPDATE (11/24/2008): They have posted the report here. (PDF)