The Coldest Night of the Year
by Debbie Cazander
With its goal to bring awareness and support for the many homeless youth within Abbotsford and Chilliwack, Cyrus Centre Ministries will once again participate in The Coldest Night of the Year annual walk, taking place in more than 125 cities across Canada on Saturday, February 24.
The event is held during the early evening hours after the sun has gone down to emphasize the uncomfortable setting homeless people face each night. The funds which are raised through the walks in Abbotsford and Chilliwack will benefit the work being done at the Cyrus Centre in each city.
Maren Kroeker, who is the Community Development Worker for the non profit organization says that Youth homelessness is higher in the Fraser Valley than it is in other areas of Canada. It is interesting to note that according to Kroeker the two Cyrus Centres offer the “only emergency housing for homeless youth between metro Vancouver and the Okanagan.”
The Cyrus Centre in Abbotsford began in 2004 in response to community need. It had become obvious to many that homeless youth were in a dire situation lacking basic needs and were also being exploited. For the original people who were instrumental in laying the groundwork in establishing Cyrus Centre and for those who continue in this ministry, they do so to show the love of God to youth and families and to meet the needs of homeless and vulnerable youth in our community by providing them with their basic needs and a safe place to be.
With 24-hour support, and emergency and long term housing to homeless and vulnerable youth, the Cyrus Centre now provides emergency housing for over 100 youth every year and provides meals to over 50 youth every day.
The centre in Chilliwack opened in 2014. Kroeker says, “As important as it is to give youth a place to do laundry or shower or grab a meal, it’s equally as important to have a place where they’re being prayed for and shown God’s love.”
Organizers are encouraging those who are interested in joining in the 5 km family-friendly walk to go to www.cnoy.org to register and either start their own team of walkers by enlisting family, friends, neighbours or coworkers to join them, or join an existing team.
The walk will start in each city at 5pm and for those walking in Abbotsford it will commence at Abbotsford Pentecostal Assembly, for those in Chilliwack at First Avenue Christian Assembly.
Refreshments will be served along the way and a complimentary dinner is planned for participants at the conclusion of the walk.