Kingston youth group kicks off campaign for sleeping cabin residents

Members of the joint youth ministry of St. James’ Anglican, St. Mark’s Lutheran, and St. Mark’s Anglican churches have come together to campaign for a cause during the season of Lent.

This year, the youth group’s ‘Caring through Sharing Campaign’ is raising funds to provide the residents of the Portsmouth Harbour sleeping cabins with “the simple luxuries many of us take for granted.” Funds raised between March 2 and April 8 will be put towards providing services such as hair cuts, manicures, and pedicures, as well as restaurant gift cards, meals, and movie tickets for residents of the cabins.

“The Lenten season is one of humility, where we begin to really focus on the needs of others and have a good look at ourselves, as well,” said St. Mark’s Lutheran Pastor Seth Perry. “The Thursday before Easter… is when Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. For us to really put that [example] into action, we felt that providing manicures, pedicures, haircuts, restaurant meals, and a night out would be appropriate.”

Getting to know one another – Members of St. Mark’s youth group, Portsmouth Harbour Sleeping Cabin residents, and OLS founder, Chrystal Wilson, stand. outside of sleeping cabins on a cold winter’s day.
L to Rt: Praise Christi, William Hannsell-Drover, Marsha, Peter Hannsell-Drover, Crystal Wilson, John, and Cory. Photo by Taylor Tye.

“We’re trying to raise some funds and get as many people down here as we can with as many activities as we can,” said youth intern Praise Christi in an interview at Portsmouth Olympic Harbour this past weekend. Our Livable Solutions founder, Chrystal Wilson, suggested the donation of restaurant gift cards and movie tickets as well. “Residents don’t get an opportunity to go out to movies because they have enough money for food and that’s it,” said Wilson.

“I definitely like the haircut idea,” said resident Marsha. “I don’t really do my nails because I’m a bit of a tomboy and I like to rough it. But I do like to wear nail polish so my nails look clean. I’ve been wanting to get a haircut so bad, but haven’t been able to.”

Marsha, who also wanted to point out that she’s a fan of “fun and bright” hair colours, expressed that she’s thankful for the community and the support that she’s found at the Harbour. “We joke around, we have fun. There are more fun times than bad… There are all sorts of different people here – Different age ranges and walks of life, people you might not normally connect with,” she expressed. “We connect here because we all have something in common.” Wilson, the driving force behind the cabin pilot, said, “it looks like family here.”

During an afternoon visit on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022, three of the youth from the ministry had the chance to tour the cabin community and to speak with some of the residents. Two residents were kind enough to share their stories.

“The thing about homelessness,” said resident Kory, “it’s just regular people, like you guys, who just got a bad run. It can happen to anyone. Three years ago, I had a home on a lake, my own business, married, cars… and it all went away within a month. Then I was homeless, in the woods with a bag of clothes. That’s how easy it can happen.”

“Now, I have a warm, safe place to live, and I have food. So, I can take all that time that I was spending just trying to survive, and I can apply it to getting back on my feet,” he concluded.

When reflecting on the donations he and the other residents have received from the community, Kory said, “the little bit of help that we can get, it means a lot.” The youth ministry will be continuing contact with the residents at Portsmouth Harbour so that they can provide them with what best meets their needs and wishes, they explained.

Youth from the St. Mark’s youth ministry standing between the Portsmouth Harbour Sleeping Cabins and entrance to the common space shared by the Sleeping Cabin residents. Photo by Taylor Tye.

“We’d love to exceed our fundraising goal and, if we do, then we won’t just be providing this for the members of the Portsmouth Harbor community”, said Rev. Perry. “We would begin to reach out to other organizations to send us the names of individuals that could also use these types of services.”

The group will also be running a bottle drive-style fundraiser within the Queen’s University community for the duration of the campaign. Salon services, and all other donations will be distributed on Thursday, Apr. 14, 2022.

To donate, the campaign’s GoFundMe page can be accessed here.

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