The pandemic has only amplified the need for the H.O.P.E. Outreach, a not for profit organization that provides nighttime outreach seven days a week to women who work or live on the streets in Kelowna and Vernon.
Due to the pandemic, H.O.P.E. Outreach has seen the number of women in need almost double.
“We have seen almost a 45 per cent increase in the ladies that we’re serving,” said Angie Lohr, executive director of H.O.P.E. Outreach.
“We have touched over 3,200 ladies throughout the last year. Or through the Narcan team as well, we’ve touched probably 2,000 individuals that we’ve served.”
Funds to run the programs that support women experiencing homelessness, living with addiction, being exploited, or working in the sex trade are raised through the annual fundraising gala called The Story of Hope.
“The Story of Hope is my own journey, of lived experience through homelessness, addiction and sex trade work,” said Lohr.
Lohr and her team hope to raise $30,000 to support existing programs and new ones coming this year.
“We found that gender-based violence has increased and almost doubled, we’ve seen a lot of assaults against our women, a lot of our women have had to go into exploitation just to meet their needs of food and clothing. Which is a very deep shame,” said Lohr.
“We have a safety app coming down the tube, we are going to be handing out cellphones. And we’re launching the Our Women program where we can meet with ladies one on one to hopefully fill some of the gaps.
The third annual Story of Hope Gala takes place Friday, April 8 at the Laurel Packing House in Kelowna. Tickets are still available, for more information visit www.hopeokanagan.com