Sources 13th Annual Homelessness Awareness March 2018
From October 7 to 13, cities across the Lower Mainland honoured Homelessness Action Week (HAW). As part of the effort to bring awareness and understanding to the issue of homelessness, Sources Newton Resource Centre held its 13th Annual Homelessness Awareness March. To even further enhance civic engagement, SOURCES featured a new activity: the “House of Cans” competition.
Upon entering Sources Newton Resource Centre’s parking lot, attendees were greeted with impromptu architects building structures out of non-perishable foods and personal hygiene items: tall spires of tomato sauce, bridges made of instant macaroni boxes, toothbrush trees, and even structures fastened down with zap straps. Through the course of the friendly competition, teams handed over $20.00 to the “House of Cans” mediator to inflict a 30-second “housing crisis” on other participants’ structures. Although there was a series of dismantling other buildings, every “housing crisis” meant another $20.00 towards Sources Housing Support Services programs, while all food donations went to the Sources and Surrey Food Banks.
Congratulations to our winning teams: Phoenix Society for the Most Aesthetic Design, Newton BIA for Honourable Mention, and SOURCES for Uniqueness of Design. A big thank-you to Phoenix Society for raising the most amount of food!
The 80-person crowd’s attention then shifted to the podium, where Sources Housing Support Services Manager, Jay Blaschuk, introduced the Homelessness Awareness March and its significance in the community:
The March is important as it reminds the community that there is still a need for housing for people who are homeless. It puts a face to the people who are homeless. It shows solidarity in the effort to find an end to homelessness. With the increasing cost of housing and the low availability of affordable housing, it has never been more relevant than it is right now.
Others who spoke included Surrey-South MLA Stephanie Cadieux, Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Marvin Hunt, Surrey-White Rock MLA Tracy Redies, Surrey-Newton MP Sukh Dhaliwal, and Sources CEO David Young. Their speeches touched on helping neighbours, encouraging the public to rally local solutions, and heightening awareness and empathy in the community.
They also outlined how the Advocacy team’s job isn’t an easy one. However, the patient, knowledgeable and compassionate staff team has managed to help clients access and/or maintain housing and get them on the path to social wellness. An honourable mention was then made to SOURCES’ former Housing Support Services Manager, Soraya VanBuskirk.
After more than 20 years of dedicated service in homelessness prevention advocacy and housing support services, VanBuskirk has become a central figure and helped tens of thousands of individuals to survive (and many to thrive) through unimaginable life circumstances and crises. This year, we say goodbye to VanBuskirk as she embarks on the next chapter in her life. The “House of Cans” competition was introduced under VanBuskirk’s long-standing wish, and will be her legacy as we continue this activity in the years to come.
After the powerful opening remarks, participants then walked through the heart of Newton holding signs with informative and eye-opening facts, figures and messages. Pedestrians and drivers also expressed their support with a wave or a honk.
Marchers were then welcomed back to Sources Newton Resource Centre with a delicious lunch of sandwiches, samosas, fruit, vegetables, and a cookie or slice of cake to satisfy the sweet tooth. A big thank-you to Newton BIA for generously providing the tasty spread!
Participants’ high levels of enthusiasm and dedication; the introduction of new and innovative ways to build awareness around homelessness; and the overall synergy of community members, agencies and businesses, made for a successful Homelessness Awareness March. Thank you to everyone who joined us.