The Cowichan Valley’s woman’s shelter on University Way celebrated its first anniversary on Dec. 20 with new mattresses and a birthday cake.
Fifteen brand new beds were recently purchased to replace the camping cots the clients have been using for the past year.
Shelter manager Adria Vorghesan said the cots were so narrow that women couldn’t even roll over at night.
“We just set up the new beds this morning,” she said on Dec. 20.
“It will be a big surprise for our clients when they come here this evening.”
Vorghesan said the new beds cost approximately $5,000, with most of the funding coming from donations from the community.
She said it’s hoped that the United Way Central Vancouver Island will also step in to cover some of the costs of the beds.
“The community has been great to us in so many ways,” she said.
“We’ve also had bags of groceries donated to us and that helps us keep our costs down. We’re planning a turkey dinner here on Christmas Day. We’re also fortunate that people have been generous with donations of winter clothing for our clients.”
This shelter, which is located in a converted concession stand owned by the Cowichan Valley school district, was first used as a temporary winter-weather shelter for woman and had a permit to operate from the Municipality of North Cowichan and funding from BC Housing to last until March 31, 2019.
But, in recognition of the need for a year-round shelter for women in the Valley, the funding and operating permit has been extended to at least Dec. 6, 2021.
Debbie Berg, the shelter’s executive director, remembers the shelter’s opening well.
“One year ago, we opened our doors in the dark, during ‘the big wind storm’, with a lovingly renovated concession building and camping cots,” she said.
“Since then we have served over 200 unique women and are currently full most nights. We continue to provide showers, clothing, laundry, storage and two meals a day. We say a big thank you to all who support us through money, time and practical donations. May you all experience moments of joy and love during the holiday season.”