From November 23–27, 2020, more than 30 boards and associations across Canada supported those experiencing homelessness in their communities as part of REALTORS Care® Week. In Southern Ontario, the Chatham-Kent Association of REALTORS® (CKAR) looked to make a positive impact on those in need as the tough winter months approached.
Before springing into action, CKAR wanted to learn more about the state of homelessness in Chatham-Kent. To facilitate this, an information session with Karyn O’Neil, Director of Community Engagement and Operations at the United Way of Chatham-Kent, was held where association staff and local REALTORS® learned how they can best support those experiencing homelessness in their community.
During the session, they learned about the Winter Warmth Initiative, which focuses on providing everyday essentials that become so crucial to the homeless during the tough Canadian winter. They also learned that the initiative was short on sponsors, and because of that, the program would not be able to provide hygiene essentials to those experiencing homelessness in Chatham-Kent.
With a better grasp on the situation, CKAR focused their efforts on the Winter Warmth Initiative and set out to create over 200 hygiene kits for the local homeless population.
Once the essential items were secured, CKAR put a call out to local REALTORS® to help organize the hygiene kits in a socially distant manner. More than 30 local REALTORS® volunteered to head to the CKAR office, mask up and safely organize the kits, which included items such as hand sanitizer, hygiene wipes and soap.
“We are here as REALTORS® in our community, doing our small part to reach out and help people in need,” said Carrie Patrick, Chair of the Public Relations Committee for the Chatham Kent Association of REALTORS®.
Through the United Way of Chatham-Kent, CKAR was able to get the hygiene kits to Reach Out Chatham-Kent (ROCK) Missions, a local homeless outreach program. ROCK Missions prides themselves as an organization that will go out to where people are, instead of waiting for people to come to then. With that, ROCK Missions was the perfect organization to ensure that the hygiene kits were received by people who need them the most.
“Chatham-Kent has an amazing ability to step up and help all organizations in need, which is vital to our community during this time of crisis,” said Renee Geniole, spokesperson for ROCK Missions.
Since REALTORS Care® Week, ROCK Missions has been able to hand out all 200 hygiene kits to those experiencing homelessness across Chatham-Kent. According to Janice Wieringa, Executive Officer of the Chatham-Kent Association of REALTORS®, those on the receiving end of the hygiene kits were so grateful to have some personal items to use just for themselves: “It is so easy for those of us living in comfort to take simple things for granted. I was truly humbled to be able to coordinate this project and see the growing need in Chatham-Kent during the pandemic.”