Each day, over 250 homeless people rely on the self storage facility of the First United Church in Vancouver, Canada to keep their belongings safe. To prevent the facility from closing when its funding ends this Fall, First United Church is spreading the word to vote online before Oct. 31 for new funding for the program through the Pepsi Refresh Project.
As part of its community on Vancouver’s Eastside for homeless and marginalized people, First United Church founded the self storage facility at 320 East Hastings in October 2009 through seed money provided by a city grant. It offers short-term secure storage 23 hours a day and other services including three meals daily, showers, advocacy, and support networks.
Having a secure place to leave their worldly goods allows people who are homeless or who live in small rooms to live more freely – spend time with friends, seek out work, go about their daily responsibilities, and even sleep – without the physical burden of transporting their stuff or the fear of having it taken.
Vickie Dutcher, a resident of the shelter since July, said, “The storage is important. … It is a godsend to me or I’d have to be carrying around my clothes. I also have my bedding down there,” as quoted in an article written by Lori Culbert of the Vancouver Sun.
First United is seeking $25,000 in funding through the Pepsi Refresh Project to keep the self-storage facility running, and is in competition with other non-profit organizations in the Food and Shelter category for two winning slots. The funding will go toward staffing the program, equipment, supplies, and other operational expenses.
“It is really important for everyone to go online and vote in the Refresh contest in the $25,000 Food and Shelter category — it’s such a small thing for people to vote, but it will have a huge return benefit,” said Rev. Ric Matthews of First United Church, as quoted in an article written by Suzanne Fournier for The Province. “People come at all critical times of the day, get what they need, put it back … and suddenly they are living a life like other people in mainstream society.”
Culbert, Lori. “Funding running out for storage program for Vancouver homeless.” Vancouver Sun. Oct 20, 2010
Fournier, Suzanne. “Deadline looms for vote on storage facility for Vancouver’s homeless.” The Province. Oct. 29, 2010