Pilot project aims to protect Niagara's less fortunate from the heat

A new pilot project aims to protect Niagara's less fortunate from the scorching temperatures of summer.

Out of the Heat is an emergency shelter initiative that would take over where Out of the Cold leaves off. The shelter would operate during July and August, giving homeless people a cool place to sleep, re-hydrate, and grab something to eat.

Organizer Heather Morrison says once the weather warms up, we have a tendency to forget our most vulnerable citizens.

"I think everyone thinks of the cold and the imminent danger that comes with that and then we assume that come springtime, 'Oh there are services available, they'll take care of everything.' We don't really think about it. And people that aren't in the field don't really think about what happens when programs like Out of the Cold close and what that overflow looks like."

Organizer James Mattiazzo knows the service is desperately needed.

"This year there was a big spike in the amount of people we were getting at programs like Out of the Cold. So we recognize that there's a need for programs like this. Once Out of the Cold closed there were up above 70 people that were just left to fend for themselves on the street."

To get the project off the ground, organizers are looking for volunteers who can help out a minimum of one night a week with a variety of tasks such as overnight shifts, food collection and preparation, and grant writing.

More than $5,000 will also be needed to cover operating costs. To help with that, a fundraiser is planned for this Friday, June 15th from 6 p.m. until 1 a.m. at the Merritton Royal Canadian Legion. The event features food trucks, live DJs, raffle prizes, and games. Tickets at $5 at the door.

Anyone who would like to be involved is encouraged to reach out by emailing outoftheheatniagara@gmail.com or calling 905-246-1713.

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