Care-A-Van catches those falling between the cracks

Organization has assisted over 850 distinct individuals in the Comox Valley in its first five years

The Care-A-Van turned five years old in 2014.

The Care-A-Van turned five years old in 2014.

Are you thinking of your end of the year donation to a good cause?

Why not give locally to the Care-A-Van of the Comox Bay Care Society. For over five years, this grassroots organization has assisted over 850 distinct individuals in the Comox Valley via its mobile health-care clinic. The primary goal of the Care-A-Van is the prevention and early intervention of homelessness.

We know there is a pressing need for people to be housed and a lack of available places. It was at this time last year, only a few weeks before Christmas that a 66-year-old man came to the van seeking help because he was at risk of eviction and of being homeless.

Due to his state of malnutrition and pressing mental health issues, he was overwhelmed by the process of completing necessary forms for his Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security. In no time, the Care-A-Van health-care volunteers provided him with the basics: a bed to sleep on as he slept on the floor of his apartment, a telephone hook-up, and a cane to ambulate as he had suffered a stroke some years ago.

A family physician of the Care-A-Van agreed to take on his care and with the appropriate referrals much needed services were soon provided.

This man is a key example of someone who is housed but lacking the support services to keep him housed. The formula for many individuals who seek the help of the mobile clinic is supportive housing.

Eventually, with assistance this man was relocated to Victoria where such supports exist in greater numbers that in the Comox Valley. He would have been homeless by Dec. 31 had the Care-A-Van not been there to keep him from falling between the cracks.

The yearly cost of running this project is of only $42,000 per year.

The program is solely funded by donations from the Comox Valley community. It does not receive any provincial, nor federal funding.

In the winter months, it is not unusual for a volunteer driver to be offering a pair of boots, socks and toques to the those who are homeless preventing them from getting sick. However, it is the relationship building offered by the 34 volunteers; be they nurses, doctors, pharmacists, dentists, optometrist, drivers that instil hope that change is possible at a time when they are lonely, discouraged and at times feeling  abandoned.

“I was down and out, using drugs and alcohol, and feeling very alone,” said Tyler Steinhorson, a past client of the van. “I noticed the Care-A-Van in the back parking lot one day and decided to see why others were going there. I’m so glad that I did! They were so caring, and great to talk to. I really felt they cared about helping people like me and I looked forward to seeing them each week. I’m happy to say that I’ve been clean and sober for over one year now! My goal is to give back to those special people who made my darkest days bright. Thank you Care-A-Van.”

The volunteers of the Care-A-Van will be out this Christmas eve and New Year’s eve, making sure that the homeless population knows that we are a caring community. To learn more about the work of the Care-A-Van and to donate please visit www.comoxbaycare.org and our Facebook page.

 

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