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Out of the Rain shelter opens for Greater Victoria youth

The seasonal youth shelter aptly named Out of the Rain opened its doors Friday night, as the rain started to fall.
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Beacon Community Services chief executive Tricia Gueulette, left, and Jenn Mortimer, manager of Out of the Rain shelter, with a van donated by Aragon Properties. "We can now expand the valuable supports that these youth so desperately need," said Gueulette. SUBMITTED

The seasonal youth shelter aptly named Out of the Rain opened its doors Friday night, as the rain started to fall.

Operated by Beacon Community Services, the home on a quiet street bordering the Fernwood and Jubilee neighbourhoods will operate through to April, giving shelter to youth ages 15 to 25, their possessions and pets.

The shelter didn’t disclose how many youth stayed the first night.

“One kid on the street is too many,” said Kerry Readshaw, Beacon Community Services spokeswoman, on Saturday.

She said word is spreading through the street community and via support workers and faith-based organizations that sleeping spaces are available at 1450 Elford St. from 8:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. daily.

Out of the Rain had previously been a rotating shelter, moving among churches and other sites, but with COVID-19 protocols it’s now in a single spot. Sleeping mats are separated by plexi-glass dividers, masks are required and sanitizing is completed every day.

The numbers of youth needing shelter each night varies.

Beacon Community Services chief executive Tricia Gueulette the safe space is essential.

“There are still far too many cold, hungry, vulnerable young people in unsafe conditions on the street,” said Beacon Community Services CEO Tricia Gueulette. “Every year for more than 20 years, we’ve opened the Out of the Rain shelter to help keep them safe, warm and dry.”

Out of the Rain youth shelter services are provided by community and faith-based organizations, businesses and individual volunteers through a coalition that’s led and co-ordinated by Beacon Community Services.

Volunteers prepare meals and Beacon staff are on site to connect with youth and offer community supports.

A big boost for the shelter this year was a donation of a van by Aragon Properties. It will be used to help youth access the shelter, assist with moving those who have found housing and connect youth with important community resources such as medical appointments.

Jenn Mortimer, manager of Out of the Rain and its homelessness prevention programs, said youth are encouraged to hope and dream for a better life, but it has to also be backed by practical supports.

“The vehicle will be a really important tool,” she said. “We’re delighted that Aragon Properties is supporting us with this gift.”

Luke Ramsay, development manager for Aragon Properties, said the van is going to “such a great program.”

“Out of the Rain is doing valuable work and we hope that this vehicle will help them make a difference to the lives of youth in the community,” he said.

Beacon Community Services is a community-based charity dedicated to helping people and improving lives in the Greater Victoria and Gulf Islands areas.

It has 600 volunteers and 250 staff and delivers services and programs to children youth and families; counselling; subsidized housing; seniors supports; assisted living and licensed dementia care; and employment services and training.

Sales proceeds from the charity’s seven thrift shops also help fund its programs.

dkloster@timescolonist.com