After much prayer and consideration, the Out of the Cold Café in Bradford will be extending its program into the summer, staying open three days a week to fill the needs of the less fortunate in the community.
Originally, the café was to operate during the cold, winter months from Nov. 1 until April 30. But, it's clear there is a bigger need to fill by the non-profit organization.
“Obviously, we’ve been dealing with the [Bradford] fire victims as well, so that will be ongoing,” explains Patti LaRose, director of operations for CrossTrainers Canada. “Homelessness doesn’t end in the summer… we don’t want to burn out our volunteers so that’s why we’re cutting the hours back, but we’re still going to be there to provide resources because we’ve been the only place with the doors open for resources all through Covid.”
The café will now be open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will continue to offer free lunches generously provided by the café’s sponsors: Little Ceasars, Don Cherry’s Sports Grill, and Hacienda Santa Teresa Mexican restaurant, as well as continued breakfast foods donated by Starbucks. The café will be open other days to accommodate individual client needs by appointment only.
“If people need resources, they can call and book an appointment and our advocates will meet with them,” shares LaRose, adding that the café has been serving approximately 12-15 people per day.
“It has been absolutely amazing to provide food to people who need it, and the fact that our town has pulled together various restaurants to provide this food is great,” shares café volunteer Doreen Pennell. “We don’t ask any questions, you don’t have to register… you need food, come and get food."
Jodi Greenstreet, creator of WOW Living Ministries and organizer of the Out of the Cold Café, has been working closely with LaRose since last fall to coordinate efforts between A Hand Up (Clothing Room) and the café to best serve the community. Both are conveniently located under the one roof at 31 Frederick St., Bradford.
The two organizations have also been working with members of BWG Council to find affordable housing solutions for clients. They have helped many of the displaced victims of the apartment building fire at 114 Holland St. West, which left over 100 people without homes.
“This community has been phenomenal with all the adoptions of the families from the fire," shares Greenstreet, who has been collecting and organizing donations and furniture from local residents for the fire victims.
LaRose adds, “we have to tell people to stop donating clothing because we literally don’t have the room… I feel bad because people want to give and we appreciate that.”
LaRose says they are hoping to start a group called “Getting Ahead” in partnership with “Bridges Out of Poverty” to help people get back on their feet; an idea that was adopted from a similar program based out the United States that has been modelled in Simcoe County’s school boards.
Additionally, Greenstreet is working on acquiring a mobile shower trailer that will provide access to hot showers for those who do not have a home base.
“It all started with showers," explains Greenstreet.
Last year during Covid, Greenstreet saw an emerging need for access to hot showers for those who were homeless. The Town of Bradford provided temporary access to showers at the old Bradford Community Centre. It was from this need, Greenstreet was inspired to form the Out of the Cold Café where homeless people could retreat to during the day when the weather was not cooperating.
Since then, Greenstreet found a more permanent solution to provide access to showers for the café’s clients, and recently found a mobile trailer equipped with two separate toilets, sinks, and shower stalls. The trailer is currently being held at General Coach Canada in London while Greenstreet strives to raise the funds needed to purchase the portable shower/washroom unit.
“There’s so much we could do with this," says Greenstreet, noting the trailer could be transported to another Out of the Cold Café in Alliston for their use, as well as using it for events in Bradford. “They are incredibly hard to find but General Coach Canada has the unit… sitting in their parking lot near London, Ontario and are holding it temporarily for us while we try to raise the money.”
The cost of the portable shower trailer is $50K and community members and local businesses have already started donating towards the special need, including a $1,000 donation from local Tim Hortons owners Perry and Jack Thornton, $780 donation from local paint store Decorator's Edge, and $250 from Bradford’s Drive True Automotive.
“Even the sales rep for General Coach said he and his wife would donate $500 towards the trailer,” says Greenstreet. “If we could get 50 people to donate $1,000 each, that would get us there!”
Currently, there is a paypal account set up to accept donations for the purchase of the portable washroom shower trailer. Unfortunately, there is a small window of opportunity to purchase the trailer at the set price. To donate, click here.
This past Saturday, the café celebrated the hard work of its volunteers by offering a free meal provided by Hacienda restaurant in Bradford, and celebratory cupcakes supplied by local baker Bonnie Aguiar, owner of Sweet B’s.
For more information and updates about the Out of the Cold Café and its current needs, visit their Facebook page here.