With the church on board to host, next was deciding where the funds would go once raised. After extensive research, the decision was made to donate all the proceeds to The Lookout Housing and Health Society's shelter in North Vancouver. Donna reached out to their manager and presented the idea of the fundraiser, asking if they would be interested in being the recipient of any funds raised. Again, the manager later stated he figured they would be getting a few hundred dollars, but they were happy to get anything St. John's raised.
Seven enthusiastic volunteers registered for that first Long, Long Night of Hope, in February 2017. They took to Facebook and Instagram, they emailed friends, family and co-workers. Interviews were done with The North Shore News and with Global TV BC News. And when those 7 participants gathered on a cold February night to sleep in their cars, they did so having raised $10,600 for the shelter. Having heard of the fundraiser, Donna's employer Rogers Communications added another $1000 for the Lookout Society.
The Long, Long Night of Hope has continued to grow.
In the second year, North Vancouver MLA Bowinn Ma joined us, and even spoke to the BC Legislature about LLNOH! Members from our sister parish, St. Catherine's Anglican Church, joined us and they were a force to be reckoned with! That year we raised $19,000.
We expanded further in 2019, with youth and general public signing up, as well as participation from another partner parish, St. Clement's in Lynn Valley. With their help last year we raised $20,000 for the shelter.
That's right, in just 3 years we donated over $50,000 to The Lookout Society, with all funds staying on the North Shore to help people in our own community.
This year we are pleased to announce St. Catherine's will also be hosting the Long, Long Night of Hope, giving participants 2 dates and 2 locations to choose from!
Could The Long, Long Night of Hope expand to other communities and support other shelters? The possibilities are endless! We would be happy to work with other groups to build this fundraiser beyond the North Shore. We will keep going until there is no longer a need.
"Walk a mile in your neighbour's shoes and you'll see they're the same size as you. There's no protected, no preferred, Just people like me and you." Those are the lyrics to our theme song (copyright Christie Lee Smith). The Long, Long Night of Hope is rooted in those words. We believe everyone deserves a home, everyone deserves food and clothing, everyone deserves hope. Homelessness is not Hopelessness. Be the Hope.
Someone asked, "What are we doing for the people living on the streets of North Vancouver?" The simple answer: not enough. When we got the crazy idea to sleep in our cars and raise money on social media, no one thought we would go very far. Boy, were they wrong!
When that question was asked, parishioner Donna Lawrence knew she had an answer. Peer-to-Peer (online) fundraising has been around for years, and was very successful at raising money for events like "The Ride to Conquer Cancer". She surmised that if St. John's was to get a handful of volunteers to raise money through Peer-to-Peer fundraising, and build awareness by sleeping in their cars, they could do something to help the homeless.
The first step was getting the church to agree to sponsor the event. Donna spoke first to the priest, Rev. Patrick Blaney, and then to the Parish Council. While they all gave the go ahead to proceed, Rev. Blaney later admitted, "I figured they might raise $1000, maybe a bit more."