Despite the strong community support, Saturday’s Coldest Night of the Year will be the last for the Upper Room Mission as the society shifts its focus to in-house events.
However, Josh Winquist, community liaison, said it’s the Mission’s hope that another organization will pick up the nation-wide event to further that dialogue.
“Our hope is that another organization picks up the torch. It is a very valuable event,” Winquist said. “With the Coldest Night of the Year, it is a lot larger than just the money. The reason it’s so successful because it elevates the conversation into the mainstream. It gets people talking. It gets people thinking more along the lines of, ‘What can I do to help?’”
After their roughly seven-year history of bringing Coldest Night of the Year to Vernon, Winquist said Saturday’s walk was a good note upon which to end.
“Despite it being a very busy weekend with other events, we had more than 100 people come out,” Winquist said.
Fundraising totals are still being calculated, but Winquist said the true pay-off is the community support Coldest Night of the Year brews.
“Those that did come out were very passionate about the event,” Winquist said.
One such supporter is Alex Mulder who, once again, was the top fundraiser for the walk.
“He is determined. He’ll be back,” Winquist said of Mulder.
“Alex saved his birthday money and fundraised by using YouTube videos to get his message out to the community. He’s a great community leader.”
While the Mission leaves behind the Coldest Night of the Year torch, it’s a move that will mean more focused programming and localized funding for the society and its partners.
“We’re going to focus in on in-house events instead of participating in another organization’s event,” Winquist said. “That money that comes in through these events, we can use for our programs and our partners’ programs.
“What we’re trying to do at the Mission of late is share some of the information about the Mission.”