Fighting locally against poverty and homelessness


In a country so rich and prosperous, it may be difficult to imagine that there are people in need nationally, provincially and even locally.

There are many homeless people in Canada, mostly in large cities, but one can find a person facing difficulties anywhere.

Ponoka has been active in different programs and organizations to help out those faced with life barriers including the Ponoka Food Bank, Ponoka Family and Community Support Services, Santa’s Anonymous, The Champion’s Centre, and many other institutions.

Matthew Zantingh, from Ponoka, has recently finished biking across the continent from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic to raise money for Sea to Sea to help end the cycle of poverty. The community supported Zantingh in his goal and he was able to raise $10,000 for the cause. Zantingh biked with about 220 cyclists and altogether the money raised exceeded 2.2 million dollars which will be distributed locally and internationally to fight against poverty.

The community has fundraised and donated to many different causes to help fight against poverty and will be coming together again to raise money for the Champion’s Centre.

The Champion’s Centre Inc in Ponoka is an organization with its focus on serving the needs of individuals in the community who need help with living on their own.

The Centre is a place for men with health issues, mental illness, economic obstacles, brain injuries, blindness and other impediments. It is a place they can come to have a supportive room and board setting and are assisted in various areas of life.

Members of the community have signed up and can still sign up for the first sleep out challenge to help raise money for the cause.

The goal for the sleep out is to raise $4,000 and participants will sleep outside on the grounds of St. Mary’s Anglican Church and Bowker Funeral Home with just a cardboard box for shelter on Oct. 3.

In 2001, a census was taken following occupancy rates in Canadian shelters including homeless shelters, halfway houses and emergency lodgings for abused spouses and their children on one day in March.

The results showed that on that day there were a total of 14, 145 people using those shelters with 6,100 in Ontario, 3,365 in Quebec, 1,935 in Alberta, British Columbia, 1,085, Manitoba, 885, Saskatchewan 225, Nova Scotia 165, Newfoundland and Labrador 45, Northwest Territories, 20, Yukon Territory 15, Prince Edward Island 5 and Nunavut 5. These are just the numbers of people on that one day in the spring. There are more that need shelter and assistance that aren’t using these places and it’s likely that those numbers would climb during the winter months.

In the large cities of Alberta, Calgary and Edmonton, there are a number of people living on the streets or in shelters.

In Calgary, with a population of over one million people, has approximately 3,195 individuals that have no place to call home. Findings from 2004 show that Edmonton, with a population of over 750,000 there are 2,192 people who have no place to live. Out of the 2,192 people, 1,452 of them were absolutely homeless and 740 were sheltered homeless, living in emergency accommodations.

Although Ponoka is a small community, it is not untouched by poverty and the efforts of the community to help out those struggling to make ends meet or who don’t have living accommodations should be commended.