The sky was clear and spirits were high. Participants did not seem to mind the long walk ahead of them, despite the cold weather. The camaraderie and conversations made it easier.
It was the Coldest Night of the Year walk, held every year in more than 60 communities across Canada to raise money for those who are homeless, hungry, and hurting. The walk, held this year on February 22, helps people experience a hint of the challenges faced by people who live on the street through the winter.
Abby Paterson, one of the participants and a member of Meadowvale Community Christian Reformed Church, said, “The actual walk was a lot of fun although it was very icy out. My 9-year-old son Devin was the captain of our team, and we managed to raise over $1,600.” Twenty-four teams were formed in the Mississauga area, all of them working toward raising funds for The DAM (Develop, Assist, Mentor).
Pastor Ken Dryfhout, director of The DAM and an elder at the Meadowvale church, explained that The DAM works at preventing homelessness, through working with the youth and young mothers. “Our purpose is prevention, stopping the flow of youth at risk in our community from experiencing the pain of homelessness, broken relationships and isolation,” he said.
Dryfhout quoted James 1:27: “True religion is to look after widows and orphans in their distress.” He continued, “We believe that we are fulfilling this verse with our walk. We see the young moms as the widows, women struggling with no job or education or any resources. We develop, assist, and mentor these young moms and the youth along the journey toward reaching their full potential.”
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