In spite of the cold weather over the Family Day long weekend, I spent most of my time at home with the windows open and the fan going.
No, I hadn’t recently discovered a forgotten sandwich that had fallen behind the chesterfield cushions, nor was this some sort of bravado stunt to prove to the world how hearty and manly I am. It’s just that my apartment was just too hot.
Because the head is controlled centrally rather than in each unit this time of year I often find myself sitting at home in shorts before donning long underwear to venture out into the cold.
But for all the unseasonable indoor temperatures, I know that I’ve got it pretty darn good. I can afford my rent in a safe building in a nice neighbourhood. My personal budgeting isn’t that tight and I know that if I ever got myself into a financial jam that I have many family members who I could turn to for help.
Sadly, that’s not the case for many within our communities. Jobs aren’t always easy to come by, social assistance, while it may prevent you from starving, isn’t overly generous and being able to afford the bare necessities of life can sometimes be just out of reach.
That’s why we at Hamilton Community News have always been proud to support those organizations within our coverage areas who work to improve the lives of those among us who need assistance. This Saturday (Feb. 22), volunteers from our staff will be walking in the Coldest Night of the Year in support of the Mountain’s Neighbour to Neighbour Centre.
The event, one of 65 across the country, brings folks together for a fundraising stroll that, depending on the weather, will give them a taste of what it’s like for people with nowhere to go during the most frigid of seasons.
Neighbour to Neighbour is the only social service provider of its kind on the Mountain, offering food bank services, educational support and other family services to a large area within the city. Their dedicated staff and volunteers work hard to ensure that those who need their assistance are able to find the support they’re looking for and do so with dignity.
When I visited Neighbour to Neighbour’s home on Athens Street I was struck by the energy and the dedication of the volunteers and staff alike. The sense that they were doing something that would make a difference within the community was palpable. But what struck me most was how, when faced with a new issue, the organization consistently chose not to shrug it off and leave it to someone else to deal with, but rather thought creatively how to tackle the problem without negatively impacting their other missions.
That’s why when the opportunity came for HCN to put together a team we jumped at it. Aside from the staffers coming out to participate, many, many more assisted through donating to the walkers or supporting our fundraising activities.
If you’d like to get involved either as a walker or as a donor you can visit coldestnightoftheyear.org/location/hamiltonmountain for more information.
And don’t worry, no matter how warm it is on Saturday, I won’t be doing the walk in shorts.
— Gordon Cameron is Group Managing Editor for Hamilton Community News.