“If we all work together,” Amber Bramer, Resource Development Manager at Cornerstone Housing for Women (CHFW) says, “we can provide women with safe, supportive housing and end chronic homelessness in Ottawa.” On Feb. 26, 2022, CHFW is holding their third annual Coldest Night of the Year event in Westboro and they’re asking for your help.
CHFW highlights the struggle some Ottawa residents face with this “family-friendly, fun winter event to help raise funding for Cornerstone’s shelter and support women experiencing homelessness in the nation’s capital.” Bramer says CHFW has had to move their shelter three times so far during the pandemic, which has weighed heavily on their resources and the mental wellbeing of residents and staff. They’ve also doubled the number of women that they are helping this past year, from 61 to 125. Meanwhile, the opioid epidemic worsened and substance use rose. The Coldest Night event spotlights the vast need for support that exists in Ottawa.
CHFW’s walk is a reason to get outdoors and a way to give back. Participants can create a team of “co-workers, family, or friends… or you can sign up individually or with your dog!” and walk in your area or follow 2km or 5km routes in Westboro Village. Either way, participants should take pictures to share on Facebook or Instagram.
Participants can also donate directly to CHFW to cover residents’ care costs. Buying gift cards for general needs is welcomed, as they permit women “choice and dignity to purchase items based on their individual needs,” Bramer says.
Not everybody has a safe, supportive home. Housing is desperately needed year-round, but especially during wintertime and doubly so in a pandemic. By walking in the cold, you truly feel the temperatures the homeless experience daily and are reminded of “how hard it would be to live in those temperatures, opening [our] eyes more to the problem right here in [our] city,” says Bramer. She wants us to see the immense need for women’s emergency shelter services and to know that those needs increase each year. “Our food services team delivered 172,000 meals over the last year, and for about seven months became Ottawa’s largest catering service, having to deliver 2,700 meals a week to our shelter.”
Unfortunately, women’s homelessness continues to rise. Every year, 1,000 women in Ottawa become homeless. More is still required to help get roofs over their heads and basic life supplies, so that they can find “hope, healing, and housing.” That’s where you come in. “Through community will and support,” Bramer says, we can end homelessness “to the betterment of our community as a whole.”
Cornerstone Housing for Women provides emergency shelter and supportive housing for a diversity of women. They support 200 women every day across five housing residences. Their services are offered in an environment that promotes dignity and a sense of hope. Their vision is for every woman to have a safe and affordable home in a community that supports her to reach her full potential. You can find more information on Cornerstone’s work at www.cornerstonewomen.ca or by following them on Instagram @hopecornerstone.