Ponoka Mat Program set to open next week

‘We are always looking for volunteers’

(File photo)

(File photo)

The Ponoka Mat Program, run by the The Ponoka Housing and Homelessness Society, will open for patrons on Nov. 26.

“We are always looking for volunteers,” said mat program director Lisa Hagemann.

The mat program is equipped to house up to four people every night they are open.

The mat availability was decreased in 2020, due to COVID-19, from six mats to four and will remain at four this year.

Last year, the program ran from February to around the end of March.

“We were able to be open most nights, but there were a few nights we didn’t have volunteers available,” said Hagemann.

“Though we do have a list of dedicated volunteers, we can always use more.”

All volunteers are required to have a criminal record check completed and to sign a confidentiality agreement prior to their first shift.

The society provides a letter to volunteers so they can get their criminal record check at no charge.

Volunteers are required to be able to do an overnight shift if necessary. Volunteers work in pairs.

The shift starts at 8:30 p.m. There is an intake period from 9 to 11 p.m.

If no one arrives to utilize the program during the intake time, the volunteers lock up and are free to go home.

If someone arrives for an intake the volunteers complete the intake process and the patron is offered something to eat and drink.

The patron is then directed to their mat, with lights out at 11 p.m.

The volunteers do safety checks throughout the night. In the morning patrons are woken up at 6 a.m. and again offered something to eat and drink prior to the discharge process.

The volunteers then clean up and are done their shift, typically by 7 a.m.

Those interested in volunteering can contact the society at ponokamatprogram@gmail.com.

Hagemann says while any donations of food or clothing are appreciated, monetary donations are the most appreciated as it allows the society to purchase whatever they are in need of.

Gift cards in amounts no more than $10, to places where people can get a meal or coffee, are also most welcome.

The Ponoka Housing and Homelessness Committee became a society at their first inaugural AGM in December, 2020.

READ MORE: Ponoka homelessness committee becomes a society