CNOY is taking steps to address homelessness

Saturday may not have ‘actually’ been the coldest night of the year seen in these parts, but it was a lot chillier than some of the spring-like February days witnessed earlier this month.

Though it may have been a lot more pleasant for the 200-plus participants who took part in this year’s Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser had the above-seasonal temperature persisted, the cool air helped hammer home the spirit of the event.

At least some nippy weather was welcome because it serves as a somber reminder as to what over 100 people who identify as homeless right here in Lennox and Addington County face on a nightly basis. A leisurely walk near sundown in late February is just a small taste of what someone living on the street endures. All told, it’s been a mild winter, devoid of the usual weeklong cold snaps that typically settle in to the region. But that by no means is meant to imply that those forced to battle the elements sleeping in a tent-or often much less-have somehow had it easy over the last four months.

Fortunately, Coldest Night of the Year is more than just a symbolic stroll through town meant to show solidarity. Those that do take part make a real difference by raising much needed funds to assist Napanee’s Morningstar Mission in their efforts to provide a warming centre for those in need.

This year organizers set the lofty goal of raising $100,000 for the Mission, which would shatter their previous high of $81,000 raised just last year. Slowly but surely pledges were added in the weeks leading up to the event, climbing to 50 per cent of the goal with under two weeks to go to walk day. Just as event organizer Lynda Carney predicted, the donations came in fast and furious over the final week. As walkers got set to depart from Trinity United Church on Saturday, they were told the event was just two per cent shy of eclipsing its goal. Less than 24 hours later, organizers announced via social media that the $100,000 goal had been reached.

Those dollar figures would be impressive for a community twice the size of Napanee. Even more impressive is how giving this community can be given how ‘invisible’ the issue of homelessness is in the area. Granted, it’s becoming less so.

A lot of credit needs to be given to the staff and volunteers of the Mission who have done an excellent job at shining light on this important issue. Even more praise should be given to the hard work they do actually addressing the problem.

The success of this year’s Coldest Night of the Year is a definite cause for celebration. There’s no shortage of people in the community willing to do their part to help address the crisis of homelessness. Though it doesn’t solve the issue over night, there’s no denying there’s a large group of people willing to take steps, literally and figuratively, towards a long term solution.

-Adam Prudhomme

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