Elora House seeking participants, volunteers for ‘Coldest Night of the Year’ fundraiser

ELORA – It doesn’t matter what the actual temperature is.

Feb. 24 is the “Coldest Night of the Year” across the country and for those brave enough – or passionate enough – to walk for a cause, this is the night to do it.

Coldest Night of the Year started in 2011 and has grown into a national campaign to support local charities that serve people experiencing hurt, hunger and homelessness.

Elora House is the beneficiary of the Centre Wellington walk that runs from 4 to 7pm.

The walk begins at the GrandWay Events Centre for registration and sign-in from 4 to 5pm. From 5 to 6pm, walkers will make their way into Elora for either the 2km or 5km walk.

The loops bring participants back to GrandWay for hot drinks and chili from 6 to 7pm.

Youth who raise $75 and adults who raise $150 will get a coveted Coldest Night of the Year toque.

Luisa Krause, executive director of Elora House, said it’s a fun event and vital to the financial health of the organization, which relies solely on donations to operate.

Elora House is a residential treatment centre for women escaping sex trafficking. It opened in 2020 just before the pandemic hit. 

But despite the challenges of lockdowns and social distancing, the organization has grown.

It can now accommodate up to seven residents and they can stay as long as they need. For some that can mean a year to get back on their feet.

“The success has been astronomical,” Krause said in a phone interview, adding some of the graduates have gone on to university or college and one mother was able to get her kids back.

“These girls have gone through so much and their needs are high. That means the cost is high – about $30,000 a month. But that’s because they are getting good care.”

As well as providing a safe place to stay and nutritious food to eat, Elora House offers all kinds of therapies to help these women get over their trauma, learn some self-care skills, some practical skills and gain confidence to live their lives independently.

“They are learning about themselves,” Krause said. “They are gaining back their lives. I’m seeing the fruits of it, and it warms my heart.

“My passion for this is even greater than when we started.”

While walk-ins are accepted, it’s easier for planning purposes if participants have pre-registered online in advance.

To register or for more information, visit cnoy.org/location/Elora.