It might not actually be the coldest night of the year, but Deltassist is getting ready to hand out toques for its first walk in support of marginalized communities.
The Coldest Night of the Year is a Canada-wide initiative to help raise money for hungry, homeless and hurting individuals. Local organizations join together under the Coldest Night of the Year banner for a night of walking to raise funds and awareness. There are 120 locations across the country, and on Feb. 24, for the first time, Delta will be one of them.
Lorraine Yates, manager of operations and projects at Deltassist Family and Community Services, first joined in on the Coldest Night of the Year back in 2016 as part of the Cloverdale walk.
“They were building a homeless shelter over there, so I supported it by walking and fundraising for them,” she said. “I never thought we’d have an opportunity to run it here.”
But in November, staff members from the Coldest Night of the Year called Yates to ask if Deltassist would like to be part of their campaign. Although it’s at a busy time of year for Deltassist — the organization will be going through its stringent accreditation process the day after the walk — Yates couldn’t say no.
“It is an opportunity for us to get undesignated funding, so that is pretty important,” she said.
The majority of Deltassist’s funding comes in earmarked for certain projects. And while this allows Deltassist to continue providing long-standing support systems — like the Better at Home program, which gives seniors access to a range of non-medical home support services such as light housekeeping, basic home repair, yard work and rides to medical appointments — it can limit the creativity of the organization.
“There’s lots of things … we could do if we had undesignated funds,” Yates explained.
One of those is to create a community garden in the back parking lot at Deltassist’s North Delta office, allowing people to pick up fresh produce in the summer and provide horticultural therapy for those who need it. The organization also hopes to increase funding for the Better at Home program in order to reduce its waitlist.
The money raised during the Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser has to fall under the “umbrella of helping people that are marginalized,” Yates said, but, “I think it can be a really great thing for us because we have so many areas that aren’t addressed with dedicated funding.”
Delta’s Coldest Night of the Year starts at 4 p.m., and will see registered participants take either a five-kilometre or two-kilometre walk through North Delta. Each walk will begin at New Hope Christian Church (11838 88 Ave.), just east of the Kennedy Senior’s Recreation Centre, and will have a number of rest stops along its route.
With less than a month to go before the walk, more than 50 people have registered to participate, and around 30 have registered to be volunteers. But Yates is hoping more will sign on as the event gets closer — ideally around 150 registered walkers.
“We’re getting enough cake for 150,” Yates laughed.
Deltassist is also hoping to get higher than its current $10,000 in donations. This year’s goal is $20,000 — the amount needed to be guaranteed a spot with the Coldest Night of the Year in 2019.
“We’re going to think of this as our building year, and hope to build every year, to maybe get us up to $50,000, $60,000 a year,” Yates said.
Those interested in starting their own walking team, joining a team or donating to an existing team can visit cnoy.org/location/delta for more information.