Peter Hill is looking to spread support “far and wide” for people experiencing homelessness in Vernon.
The Vernon man printed 100 cards reading ‘Hope For All,’ and invites residents to use them to make the cold winter season a little warmer for the community’s most vulnerable.
Inside, the cards contain information and contact numbers for local resources for the homeless, including the Vernon Urgent Primary Care Clinic, the Salvation Army Food Bank, Hope Outreach and the Upper Room Mission.
Hill has lived in Vernon for 40 years, and for 25 of those years he was licensed with the local Christian ministry, and helped out in the early beginnings of the Vernon Christian Fellowship on 29th Street.
“I celebrated my 80th birthday in October a couple of months ago, so I thought it’s time to do something,” he said.
Asked what prompted him to start the initiative, Hill had a story at the ready.
“I was just walking along main street and there’s a guy sitting in a little opening next to a small store on main street trying to keep himself warm, so we ended up having a coffee together and as we talked I said to him, ‘do you know where the Upper Room Mission is?’ Hoping to steer him towards getting a hot meal. And he said ‘no, I had no idea.’ He said ‘I’m from Lillooet and I’m just wandering around the province basically,’ so I thought, well, if I’d had a friendly business card, if I’d had that to give to him, then he would be able to find the Upper Room Mission and get a hot meal easily.”
Hill said Vernon councillor Kelly Fehr and former councillor Scott Anderson have put their support behind his project. And The Morning Star is getting involved, too.
Residents interested in picking up a card, filling it with a gift card and giving it to someone experiencing homelessness can pick up a card at The Morning Star, the Vernon Christian Fellowship or from Hill directly by calling 250-558-8362.
“The invitation really is for people to pick up something, put in a gift card of their own that they can pick up and give it out, or the other option is that those who would like to help a little bit on the dollar side of it, they can contact either myself or The Morning Star, or Vernon Christian Fellowship,” Hill said. “They can drop off something there and we’ll make sure it gets converted into gift cards.”
Hill said he’s travelled to 40 countries around the world and has seen it all, which put into perspective the need that people face here at home.
He hopes to see the initiative take off “far and wide,” recognizing that it’s not just Vernon that has a problem with too many people experiencing homelessness.
“One of the things that we would like to see is not just two or three people doing this, but basically the invitation is for all who would like to or care to do something to take the initiative, especially as we’re getting into the winter now and we’ve got more colder weather coming, it’s really tough, as you can imagine, on the homeless,” he said.
Hill said he would also like to see city council take more initiative and take steps towards providing suitable accommodation for the homeless “so they can get off the streets and get their feet on the ground again and begin to take steps towards a more meaningful life.”