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    Before people took to the streets, the initial amount of $35,000 raised from the Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) walk was unveiled. Holding the big cheque on Feb. 23 was, from left, David Studham, Chairman for the CNOY Pembroke Steering Committee, MP for Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke Cheryl Gallant, Family and Children’s Services Renfrew County - Safe Shelter for Youth Executive Director Arijana Haramincic, and Jerry Novack, Executive Director of The Grind. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

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    Participants in the annual CNOY march on the streets of Pembroke, starting at the Armoury on Feb. 23. They had the option to walk two, five or 10 kms. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

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    (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)



2019 Coldest Night of the Year raises $35K to help combat homelessness in Renfrew County

By Patricia Leboeuf

Posted on Thursday March 7, 2019

Homelessness in Renfrew County isn’t as obvious or visible as it often is in larger urban centres - it’s not necessarily people living and sleeping on the streets.

Homelessness in the area is much more insidious, quiet and pervasive. It is a teenager running from an abusive home, an adult working two jobs but still unable to pay rent who lives in their car, or an injured veteran jumping from one friend’s couch to another.

Regardless of what shape it takes, it is a problem in the county.

To help those facing homelessness and shine a spotlight on the issue, about 170 people came out on Feb. 23 and participated in the Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) Pembroke fundraising walk. Hosting this annual event was made possible through countless business supporters and individual donors as well as more than 70 volunteers.

Seeing so many people willing to help those in need filled organizers with gratitude. “I think this is a testament to the issue that we are trying to raise money for, which is homelessness,” said David Studham, Chairman for the CNOY Pembroke Steering Committee.

Choosing between two, five or 10 kms, these kind souls started their trek at the Pembroke Armoury and experienced a small taste of what it is like to have to deal with the cold when there is no shelter.

As well as a chance to raise awareness on the subject, the event also acted as a fundraiser.

The initial numbers were $35,000; the hope was that the event would raise $50,000, but that goal was not achieved on the evening of the walk.

Members of the CNOY Steering Committee are confident, however, that as more money trickles in, they will reach their target. By the time the walk began, not every participant had brought in their promised pledges and many of the corporate sponsorships were still coming in slowly.

Once all is tallied, the funds should climb much higher, said Studham. “Our goal was $50,000 and while we may not make it,... I think this is a very generous turnout both in terms of participation with the walkers and volunteers and also with a very generous community. We have over 500 donors,” he said.

The raised funds will be donated to The Grind Pembroke and Renfrew County Safe Shelter for Youth, sponsored by Family and Children’s Services of Renfrew County (FCSRC). “This event is so important to us downtown for the work that we are doing,” said Jerry Novack, Executive Director of The Grind. “It is just so encouraging to see so many people come out again this year.”

Both organizations are crucial to helping people find stability when they need a hand up.

During 2017-2018, FCSRC housed 40 homeless youth and helped many more who were at risk of becoming homeless.

During the same period of time, The Grind housed 157 adults.