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St. Hilda's has been the home for two outreach programs to the homeless of the Sunshine Coast since 2011. The Cold Weather Drop-in is a 5-8pm meals program operated every night between November and March supported by local churches and service clubs. The Extreme Weather Emergency Shelter, operated by The Salvation Army offers a 10-mat program during nights of sub-zero temperatures.

The new Cold Weather Shelter is a creative community partnership between St. Hilda's, Sunshine Coast Community Services Society, The Salvation Army, and Sunshine Coast Homelessness Advisory Council (SCHAC) to extend shelter service to cover the whole cold-wet season. Earlier in October, the Parish learned that this new pilot program may not be able to operate without a lead-agency. As a result, the Church Committee of St. Hilda's offered a "green light" for the parish to become the lead agency for the 2013/14 cold-wet season to give the Advisory Council time to find a more suitable lead organization in future seasons.

The experience of being the host for these outreach programs has been amazing and beyond what the Parish expected. These various shelter programs have drawn more than 100 volunteers from the parish and the wider community working together to provide nutritious meals and human contact to up to a dozen of homeless people on the Sunshine Coast. Many volunteers expressed how the experience helped de-stigmatize their notion of homelessness and people who are homeless. These programs have also significantly strengthened St. Hilda's profile as a compassionate place on the Sunshine Coast. Some of the people whom we connected through these programs began to support other outreach ministries of the Parish. One of the most remarkable things is to have people who were homeless a year or two ago coming back wanting to volunteer for the shelter program this year.

Please click the link to access reporter Christine Wood's, November 1st article in the COAST REPORTER.