Initiative aims to aid the homeless in C-K

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Chatham-Kent has a serious case of juxtaposition.

In a year where we saw a record number of home being built, sold and renovated, we also saw homelessness and mental health issues rise, thanks in no small part to COVID-19.

A group of local businesses helping to build up Chatham-Kent are also looking to support residents as well, through the Because We Care program.

Maple City Homes, Sacwal Flooring Centres, the Lighting Shoppe, Windmill Cabinet Shop, the Chatham-Kent Association of Realtors and CKXS have teamed up to launch the program.

Alanna Aarssen, president of Sacwal Flooring, said Because We Care members have already raised $30,000, and fundraising will continue into the New Year in an effort to combat homelessness.

Last year, Because We Care raised $110,000. Aarssen said they hope to exceed that this year.

She stressed the importance of helping our homeless.

“I think we’ve got a very growing population of homeless people in the community,” she said. “Homelessness – there’s a stigma – a lot of people associate it with addictions. That really stems from mental health problems. And with COVID, that’s come to the forefront.”

She’s not alone in that thought.

“This is our community, the place where we live, do business, and raise our families,” Trevor Mailloux, director of Maple City Homes, said in a media release. “When I’m challenging our business colleagues, I tell them, our people are in trouble, and we need to help.”

Aarssen, who has volunteered with R.O.C.K. Missions, has seen the problem firsthand.

“I had the opportunity to bring meals to these people through R.O.C.K. Missions. We have a problem on our hands,” she said, adding most people do not choose to be homeless.

She said the goal is to help get people off the street and into a warm, safe place.

Aarssen said the rising home prices make it a seller’s dream, but it is a nightmare for people living from paycheque to paycheque.

“The market is forcing people out of their homes and they can’t rent homes,” she said.

Because We Care organizers said helping is easy: take part; give. Everything given stays in Chatham-Kent and supports the people and agencies who are on the frontlines, organizers added.

Anyone interested in joining the challenge can visit www.uwock.ca.

Being connected to an umbrella organization such as the United Way, Aarssen said, allows the funds to be funneled to areas where it’s needed, be it frontline support such as R.O.C.K. Missions, or through other support initiatives.

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