A display and fundraiser is planned May 9 – 23 at Lambton Mall to raise awareness and improve living conditions for the increasing number of homeless in Sarnia-Lambton.
Following publication of The Journal’s “Stories from the Street” series in March by Cathy Dobson and Glenn Ogilvie, a group of local residents came together to determine how they can help.
The series focused on the personal stories of those experiencing homelessness – or precarious housing – and exposed acute human suffering as well as surprising resilience among those living on our streets, sleeping in doorways and under tarps in the woods.
“We need to do something to address the urgent need in our community,” said Keeley McMullin, spokesperson for the group. “We want as many as possible to read Stories from the Street so our community develops an understanding that residents experiencing homelessness are people like you and me who need our help.”
The entire series can be read here: https://thesarniajournal.ca/recap-stories-from-the-street-parts-1-5/.
There has never been a time when so many are living rough in Sarnia-Lambton or finding themselves on the brink of losing the roof over their heads, McMullin said. An estimated 10-50 sleep outside on any given night, likely many more in warm weather, according to local social service officials.
“It’s being called an unprecedented emergency,” said McMullin. “We hope that many in our community go to the mall and see the display there. If you can, we also hope you’ll make a donation.”
The group has established a Stories from the Street Fund at the Sarnia Community Foundation with the purpose of assisting people experiencing homelessness in Sarnia-Lambton with their immediate needs, and with their transition to permanent housing.
The group’s initial goal is to use donations to the Fund to purchase items such as large-wheeled handcarts and backpacks for people living rough. Without a way to securely carry their few possessions, it’s often impossible for them to go into shelters or the hospital’s ER without having them stolen. Shopping carts that are frequently used are not permitted inside any buildings, so people with serious health concerns often don’t seek medical assistance.
All donations will be managed though the Sarnia Community Foundation, which will issue tax receipts.
“Homelessness is affecting all of Sarnia-Lambton,” said Mike Barron, the Sarnia Community Foundation’s executive director and a member of the group. “We need everyone working together to address the dire needs of people experiencing it.”
Donations can be made to the Stories From the Street Fund in person or by mail to the Sarnia Community Foundation, 109 Durand Street, Sarnia, N7T 5A1 or by phoning them at 519-332-2588. Donations can also be made online at:
https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/73699 by selecting Stories From the Street Fund from the dropdown list. There’s also a QR code at the mall display that can be scanned to donate.
Stories from the Street t-shirts are available for $25 each, with $15 of each sale going to the fund. They are available at the DOG EAT DOG Gift Store, 161 Mitton St. South.