Paul Tavares‘ 90-day journey back into homelessness for a good cause is almost over.
Twice homeless earlier in life, the Cambridge, Ont. resident launched his “90 Days and Nights in the Cold” initiative in February, promising to spend every night for three months in a tent on a green space beside a Shoppers Drug Mart near the gateway into Galt.
His goal has been to raise awareness about homelessness; to collect donations of clothing and food for local agencies like the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank and The Bridges shelter where he himself once stayed. He also aimed to raise $10,000 for those agencies, and he’s almost there.
Posted on a nearby fence is a mock thermometer counting how much he’s raised.
“Right now… I’ve got $9,000 listed,” says Tavares, adding that those numbers aren’t final yet.
Some of it came from the kindness of strangers and some of it through more innovative means like the sale of ad space on the fencing around his tent and even “90 Days” hoodies.
Tavares has also auctioned off his labour to six different people.
“I’ll be doing painting and yard work and everything else,” he said with a smile.
VIDEO: Ontario man goes homeless to fight homelessness
Tavares claims he also received at least 500 bags of clothing donations, having to clear the storage crate he’s been keeping them in four times over the duration of his funding drive.
The initiative wraps up on Saturday and Tavares is having a barbecue at the site to celebrate.
It starts at 10 a.m., and all are welcome.
That’s where he’s expected to give the final tally on all the donations he’s collected.
Asked if he’d do this again next year, Tavares doesn’t rule the idea out, suggesting perhaps, multiple locations.
“I did talk a little bit about 13 different cities,” he said.
“A Southern Ontario homeless tour — because that’s what this was; 13 weeks in one place.”
Whatever he decides to do, While this weekend marks the end of this effort, Tavares says it won’t be the end of his advocacy.
“Truly, it’s just the beginning,” he said.