Making Room at the Inn

Posted By Katie Kowalchuk
December 20, 2016

Abbotsford, BC – When MCC BC was approached about turning our Material Resources Warehouse into an Extreme Weather Response shelter, the immediate answer was yes. “We didn’t have all the logistics figured out,” said Jane Njogu, Coordinator of MCC BC’s Homelessness Prevention & Outreach program, “but we knew this was something we wanted to do.”

Between November and April each year, BC Housing provides funding for temporary emergency shelters through its Extreme Weather Response program. The program provides mats for beds, and coffee and muffins for breakfast, but needs spaces for these shelters to be set up. In Abbotsford, two other Extreme Weather Response shelters exist at Salvation Army and Cyrus Centre, which together provide shelter for up to 26 individuals.

Since the summer of 2015, MCC BC has been hosting a weekly Thursday Evening BBQ, and a bi-weekly Sunday Dinner at the MCC Centre, located at 33933 Gladys Ave. Over the course of these meals and individual meetings with clients through MCC’s program, Njogu has built strong relationships with members of Abbotsford’s homeless and at-risk of homelessness community. “When people talk about MCC in the forest, what they say is that you care,” one man said.

So early in December, when The 5 and 2 Ministries asked us if we would be willing to consider opening up a space to provide an emergency shelter, the obvious answer was yes. When Njogu made the announcement at the Thursday Evening BBQ, the response was one of extreme gratitude. “Everyone else said no to us. But you… you didn’t,” one woman said with tears in her eyes.

Jane in the Warehouse
Jane Njogu stands in the MCC Material Resources Warehouse, which is transformed into a shelter on a moment’s notice (MCC Photo/Julia Buckingham)

Each time there is an extreme weather advisory in effect (as deemed by BC Housing), MCC will open its doors to 20 individuals on a first come, first served basis. Thanks to resources from MCC’s Material Resources Warehouse, the MCC Centre Thrift Shop and Common Place Cafe, these men and women will have access to sleeping bags, blankets, winter gear, dry clothes, games, entertainment, and a hot evening meal.

“We’ve made room at the inn,” says Njogu.