‘Just because it’s not snow, doesn’t mean it’s not cold’: YWCA grateful for $25,000 cold weather shelter donation

Malcolm Jenkins (left) and YWCA Fund Development Officer David Hambleton (right) speak during the 2023 Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser. -- YWCA photo.

The Prince Albert YWCA’s efforts to provide emergency shelter received a big boost on Dec. 1 thanks to a $25,000 donation from the Malcolm J. Jenkins Family Foundation.

The funds will go towards its cold weather housing programming. The YWCA currently operates more than a dozen locations across the city that provide emergency shelter, medium-term shelter, and addictions and mental health housing.

“We were just over the moon,” YWCA Fund Development Officer David Hambleton said when asked about the donation. “The jaw drops. Malcolm has been a big supporter for many, many charity organizations, good causes, and just positive things for our community. His support has always been deeply appreciated by the YWCA, and it goes a long way to help us provide the best service and supports that we can for the vulnerable community members, especially the homeless, at this time of year.”

November and December have been abnormally warm by Prince Albert standards, but Hambleton said that doesn’t mean emergency cold weather shelter isn’t needed. He said the rain Prince Albert received earlier in the month can be just as deadly for homeless residents as -20 C temperatures.

“Just because it’s not snow doesn’t mean it’s not cold,” Hambleton explained. “For the homeless out there, … it might as well be -20 C if you’re soaking wet and outside. Even slightly frigid temperatures are very, very cold with the rain, so that doesn’t really decrease the demand at our homeless shelters during these months. We are fortunate to have slightly warmer temperatures, but the homeless people still don’t have anywhere to go at night.”

The YWCA has increased capacity at its cold weather shelter by 30 per cent this year. That means they’ll have up to 45 spots available a night, but Hambleton said they’ll still struggle to meet the need.

Stepping Stones Shelter received enough funding to operate 24 hours a day this winter. Previously, guests were asked to leave by 8 a.m.

“The homeless situation in Prince Albert, unfortunately, is not decreasing,” he said. “The numbers have gone up, and in the past few years they’ve gone up quite a bit.

“We’re really happy to have a little bit of additional funding to try to tackle what’s kind of becoming an epidemic in our community,” he added.

Philanthropist Malcolm Jenkins said he’s hoping the $25,000 donation will spur other prominent residents to chip in and help Prince Albert’s homeless population. Even in Prince Albert has benefited from warmer temperatures, he said, that won’t last all winter. When temperatures drop, vulnerable residents will need a place to go.

“Winter’s coming up, and there are folks who aren’t going to be tucked away in a nice 4 C or 8 C (room) or whatever,” Jenkins said. “People are going to have a tough winter without cover. I always feel that we can do whatever we can to help those who are less fortunate than ourselves.

“I’m going to do it, so I just always try to make a little bit of noise to beat the drum a bit so other people are aware of it. They’ll maybe think it through the same way and realize that they should chip in a bit and we can make it bigger than it would if it was just me.”

Anyone who wishes to donate to the YWCA can visit www.ywcaprincealbert.ca/donate.