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Coldest Night of the Year walk aims to help those in need

For the second year in a row, Prince George will join more than 100 communities across Canada for the Coldest Night of the Year walk-a-thon.

The walk is being held to raise both awareness and money for those in need. Money raised will go primarily toward AWAC’s Housing Program, with a smaller amount providing food and other essentials through St. Giles Benevolence fund. AWAC has now expanded its housing program, thanks in part to funds raised last year by the Coldest Night of the Year. Likewise, St. Giles Benevolence fund has been able to provide for more people and has not had to turn away people in need.

For Elda Egan, this passion came after her son, who has autism and a severe mood disorder, spent several months on the streets. Last year, during the time of walk, Elda’s son was generally stable and had supported housing. Since then, due to a severe psychotic episode, he lost his housing and began a terrible downward spiral. This led to Elda’s son being off his medication. She witnessed him deliberately jumping in front of a vehicle and smashing the vehicle mirror off with his face. He finally admitted himself into the hospital to get back on his medication. Whereas last year, he was able to spend Christmas with his family, this year, he spent Christmas in seclusion in the hospital. He has now been released back to the streets with no safe place for him to live and no sure way for him to get his medication. It is just a matter of time before there is another episode putting himself or others at risk.

At one point, after losing his housing and not knowing the connection between his mother and AWAC, Elda’s son phoned AWAC. He was able to speak to Connie Abe and she was very touched when he said “all I want is a home.”

Connie feels the new housing coming at the Economy Inn could be suitable for Elda’s son. So now, Connie and Elda’s passion has become very personal – they are hoping to find housing for Elda’s son.

The walk is on February 24. It starts at 5 p.m. at St. Gies Presbyterian Church and walkers can take a two, five or 10 kilometre family-friendly winter walk-a-thon and meal in support of the hungry, homeless and hurting.

Anyone wanting to join is more than welcome. It will be a good way for community members to connect in an entertaining, meaningful way and to enjoy a walk and a meal together while raising money for the hurting and homeless! It is also a way to earn a classy Coldest Night of the Year toque.

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