Sooke Shelter residents are doing their part to thank the community, which has helped them in their time of need.
Each day for the past two years, residents head out to perform simple acts of community service such as picking up litter and tidying up areas around the district.
“They want to give back to the community, but it is not so easy in the situation they are in, so this is the best way we have figured out to do that,” said Kristie Miller, Sooke Shelter Society homelessness coordinator.
“They go up and down the road, trying to focus on the main streets and around the (Sooke Community Hall) looking for garbage. They want to stress that they do care and want to contribute to the community as much as possible.”
In addition to regular garbage, Miller said those participating in the cleanup efforts are equipped with protective gloves and proper storage bins for the more hazardous waste they may encounter, such as sharps waste.
The program was inspired by similar initiatives run by other shelters in the province.
While the program’s primary goal is to give back to the community, Miller said it has many other benefits for its participants.
“We find it is a really big confidence booster. It really helps the residents feel good giving back,” she said. “We do have some people who are working off community service (sentences), so this is a way to help them work that off. A lot of times, though, people just really enjoy doing it.”
The society is focused on operating as a shelter. Still, as it grows and the need for more social services in Sooke increases, Miller said the organization would expand into new services.
The society is beginning renovations on the second floor of its building to convert it into supportive housing better suited to the elderly and those struggling with addictions and mental health.
“We are the only facility (west) of Victoria, so we are sort of the last stop, and we need to grow.”