Recently the Progressive Housing Societys Homeless Outreach Program and their volunteers held a Christmas Party at Southside Community Church . It was an event called Outreach Christmas. Approximately 125 people attended, 25 were staff and volunteers, 100 of which were people who are dealing with homelessness, some formerly homeless, some people who live nearby. Donated clothing, personal toiletry items, presents from Santa, games, raffle prizes, a hockey shoot, entertainment from the Casablanca Cowboys were all collected or purchased through the fund raising efforts of the Progressive Housing Societys staff and volunteers. The breakfast was provided by the Kingsley family of Burnaby, and catered lunch by A Seasonal Experience which was served by a host of volunteers including MLA Raj Chouhan and MP Peter Julian. Burnaby Councilor Paul McDonell brought donated socks and fleece sweaters for distribution. The December birthdays were celebrated with singing, cake and cards of well wishes.
During a season which many find emotionally challenging, people were able to talk with friends, feel welcome and respected, seek help from Outreach Workers or Health Care Professionals, and enjoy the experience of the Outreach Christmas. The appreciation expressed by many was heartfelt and contagious. The experience for many volunteers was emotionally moving¦.as they were able to assist and connect with people in attendance. People dealing with homelessness are people like any of us¦. someones daughter, son, sister brother, mother, father, sometimes grandmother or grandfather. Genuine caring and support is needed and appreciated, even at Christmas.