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Kelowna Drop In Centre marks last day offering street services

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 | 11:30 am

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By John McDonald

With a saviour nowhere to be seen, staff at the Kelowna Drop-In Centre will be working their last day today, closing the doors on the street-level service for the poor and homeless that has served Kelowna since the 1980s.

Executive director Selena Stearns has said previously that she was holding out hope for a last-minute reprieve, through some reconsideration from government or a private donor, a position she still holds onto.

“There’s always hope,” said Stearns, who pointed out the Leon Avenue building the drop-in centre operates out of has yet to be sold. “We’ll be closing the doors tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean something couldn’t happen between then and when the building sells.”

So far, though, pleas to local MLAs and other levels of government have gone unanswered, Stearns admitted.

The centre announced several months ago that it had lost a contract for two outreach workers and a breakfast program, which in turn, triggered the loss of a third-party welfare contract.

Other non-profit social agencies held a press conference soon after announcing that amongst themselves, they would be able to fill in the gaps left by the drop-in centre’s demise, a position Stearns disputes.

“I do believe the Gospel Mission is going to open its doors and have people in for breakfast. I don’t believe they can ever replace what we offer and what this place means to people,” she said.

Stearns is critical of the other social agencies in town, which rushed to announce they had the capacity to replace the centre’s lost services, soon after the closure was announced.

“Some of the most vocal people at that meeting, are the very people who are now saying they can’t ‘take any of our clients because they are full,” she said. “I think people will go hungry, they will go without services they need. I think we are breeding more mental health issues, which happens when people are not treated with compassion, when they are treated as a statistic, not as a human being.”

Stearns says the centre will mark its last day with an early Easter event and she expects to see people she hasn’t seen for a while. “It’s a sort of goodbye, I guess,” she added.


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4 Responses to “Kelowna Drop In Centre marks last day offering street services”

  1. Rowean says:
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    I am so sorry to see such a vital thing go under people need help and they need people who realize they need help to provide it. People who don’t judge them and don’t label them as just another crack head or someone who deserves thier fate becouse they are trying to deny that they could wind up that way. I sincerly wish there was something I could do.

    Bright Blessings

  2. Steve T says:
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    I am glad to know that even though a service provider is no longer able to financially operate that other providers have stepped up and are covering the bases. I agree with Selena that other agencies will be able to offer the same services they have, but no one will replace them…but then no one should every try to replace anyone. What they should do, is be there to support those who need it – and that is what they have done.

  3. J-Man says:
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    There goes one of the last secular services for Kelowna’s underclass. This just shows as to where the priorities of the city as well as the Provincial government lie. No bailouts, no suggestions… Not even a kind word. Thanks guys!

  4. DTsupporter says:
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    I am torn on this issue since services like this are desperately needed, but on the other hand this is a huge positive step for the revitilzation of this area. An area that is for every citizen to feel safe in, enjoy and be proud of…an area that’s not the brunt of “safety” or “prostitution” spun jokes.

    Very recently, new businesses are choosing the Leon/Lawrence Avenue area again, like: Streaming Cafe, Cush Restaurant & Lounge, Da Tandoor Indian Restaurant, Pure Esthetics, Greenhawk Equestrian Supplies… These just add to the budding vibrancy of the area that the Worman Building has started in conjunction with other excellent venues and services that already exsist in this area.

    This area has so much potential and I look forward to seeing it grow and change in coming years.

    Please continue discussion on the forum: link

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