By day, the material aid warehouse at Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) B.C.’s headquarters is used to store and process items such as school kits and blankets to be shipped overseas. But, in the colder fall and winter months, by night the space is converted into an extreme weather shelter hosting the city’s most vulnerable.
The shelter is operated by 5 & 2 Ministries, with MCC B.C. providing the space. It runs nightly from 7:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. from October to March, providing accommodation for 20 adults aged 50 and older.
Some guests are referred from other community organizations, but as MCC B.C. is conveniently located on Abbotsford’s Gladys Corridor, an area populated by the “street-entrenched,” word about the shelter gets out.
“Shelter guests are provided with a light supper—soup, fruit, etc.—and access to washrooms,” says Sue Kupp, interim program director for MCC B.C. “5&2 Ministries funds the shelter through B.C. Housing and hires staff who are on disability and unable to steadily work, providing them with extra income.”
A shelter such as this benefits the larger community as well as the individuals.
Kupp reports that “5&2 has many stories of guests who have been supported back into housing, have found work, etc. The City of Abbotsford also has statistics regarding money saved from emergency room visits and hospital stays since the community shelter/extreme weather shelter system has been implemented.”
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