Downtown Mission's Bench Talk Needs More Help Than Ever

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The executive director of the Downtown Mission is getting set to kick off his annual bench talk and an anonymous donor has come forward to raise the stakes.

Ron Dunn says the donor has agreed to match funds raised at the event up to $40,000 creating an opportunity to pull in as much as $80,000 for the Mission.

This is the fourth year Dunn has hosted the bench talk where he spends 24-hours outdoors in an effort to raise awareness about homelessness.

He says even the smallest donation can help get them to their goal.

"It's hard to raise the money that we need to continue with the programs that are so desperately needed by our community. To have somebody say we'll recognize your efforts and double your money, first of all it doesn't happen very often and, secondly, it's so much in need at this time even compared to other years."

Dunn says the COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on the Mission.

"Homelessness has never been more open and public in the community. Lots of people are talking about it. Many services shrunk down or had to go virtual and things like that, we did not have kind of luxury to be able to do that. So we became the only place you could go in the height of the pandemic."

He says the Mission is needed now more than ever.

"Overdoses are on the rise as everyone is talking about. We've had our challenges just on that front. It's been very, very difficult. People that we help are often experiencing mental health issues, they're feeling segregated and alone and now they're totally cut off from everything and everyone."

The 4th annual bench talk begins Thursday morning at 11am and wraps up Friday morning at 11am.

A link to donate can be found at downtonwnmission.com.

Last year's event brought in close to $60,000.

— with files from AM800's Gord Bacon