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a photo of a woman handing a bowl of soup to another woman at a soup kitchen

Warm Shelters and Warmer Hearts in Drayton Valley

The Alberta government announced a two-year plan to address homelessness, but what about those in need now?

At the start of October 2022, the Alberta government announced a two-year, $187 million plan to address homelessness and addiction in the province.

While this is great news, it doesn’t make tomorrow any easier for those experiencing homelessness now. Many Albertans have nowhere to go, with cold winter temperatures blanketing the province.

But Drayton Valley is doing everything possible to ensure its homeless population can make it through this winter. The town’s Warming Hearts Centre recently opened its doors to residents experiencing homelessness.

The centre functions as a shelter where Drayton Valley’s homeless residents can warm up from morning to early afternoon. Volunteers and advocates run the shelter from Drayton Valley’s Warming Hearts Soup Kitchen Society, also known as Warming Hearts.

Warming Hearts is a soup kitchen in Drayton Valley that runs once a week on Wednesdays. In addition to warm food, the kitchen offers delivery of food hampers, grocery cards, and fuel cards to those in need.

the back of a car filled to the brim with soup made by a member of Warming Hearts
A car filled with soup made by a member of Warming Hearts in Drayton Valley, AB | Warming Hearts Facebook Page

“We finally have a shelter running after ten years. It’s been running since the 16th of December. We are hoping to run seven days a week. We are up to five right now…We have amazing volunteers. We can actually let them have showers now, and they can do laundry,” Kelly Foster, President of Warming Hearts, told Big West Country.

Foster also commented that a Family and Community Support Services program member would be coming to the shelter to help clients obtain identification, like passports.

Since the pandemic, rates of homelessness have increased across Alberta. In Edmonton, there were around 2,800 people without homes in 2021. That’s double what the city had in 2019.

Smaller towns like Drayton Valley are no exception. According to local officials, about 100 homeless Albertans are in Drayton Valley. That’s more than the town had before the pandemic.

Thanks to Warming Hearts, Drayton Valley’s homeless now have somewhere to go to warm up and enjoy a hot meal. Soon, the shelter hopes to keep its doors open until around 9 PM.

The Warming Hearts centre is also working on adding additional services to the facility. This includes connecting clients with agencies that can provide mental health, addiction, and long-term housing support.

Alberta’s winters may be cold, bitter, and unforgiving. But its people are warmer, kinder, and more accepting.

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