KELOWNA — A warm place to stay in frigid weather is a must for survival, but what may surprise you is that the busiest time of the year for the Kelowna Gospel Mission isn’t during the winter it’s actually the exact opposite.
The shelter is full to capacity most nights in July and August, but this year the rush has come even earlier.
“We now have waiting lists which we usually don’t have,” says Kelowna Gospel Mission Executive Director, Randy Benson, “we’ve had to put mats out on the floor.”
The shelter has 90 beds, which haven’t been enough to accommodate the spring rush.
“They said they had no room, so I went to park and slept outside,” says Kevin, who just got into Kelowna Thursday night.
The rest of the year, on average, 50-70 beds are filled on any given night.
But this May bucked the trend, with the shelter at capacity by the end of the month.
The types of clients are different too.
Throughout the year the mission mostly serves people between the ages of 35 – 55 but now, there’s an influx of men and women in their 20′s.
Benson can’t pin point the reason why the rush has come sooner. He says it could be young seasonal workers arriving early or people make a pit stop for the summer.
But, Benson says, “it’s certainly not people looking for at free ride. They’re really trying to get jobs and get on their feet and they’re just struggling and that’s who we’re here to help.”
Along with a spike in the use of the shelter, there’s been a sharp increase in the amount of people coming in for hot meals.
On average the mission serves 300-350 meals per day, now that number has jumped to roughly 500.
The non-profit relies on the generosity of others. If you would like to show your support during this busy season you can donate to the Kelowna Gospel Mission online.