On Friday September 26th, 2014, on or about 11:30am Our House West Coast Society founder, principal director, and St. Paul’s Vancouver parishioner Norm Sharkey ODNW will complete his remarkable cross-Canada journey of 5350 km the distance from Vancouver BC to Cambleton, NB. Beginning on April 28th, 2014, Norm travelled this distance by roller blading 50 km Monday through Friday around the Stanley Park Seawall.
Many thanks to Lisa Myers, the Our West Coast Society secretary for sending the following informative email to diocesan communications:
Our House - the addiction recovery program continued to run while Norm was on his skate. House manager, Andrew Oake, stepped up to take on the responsibility of running the house and conducting group sessions while Norm was away. Well-known street artist, former Our House resident, and St. Paul’s parishioner, Vance, took over Norm’s Thursday afternoon meeting at St. Paul’s Anglican on 1130 Jervis Street. The parishioners of St. Paul’s have been wonderful supporters of Norm and Our House West Coast Society; it has been amazing to watch a small church community rally behind a parish member who has a vision for a better future - one that will strengthen the whole community. The west end is in need of more solutions to homelessness and addiction. For some, Our House provides that solution. That is why we hope to open a home in downtown Vancouver in the near future.
Sam Andrews, a graduate of the Our House program, was in charge of Public Relations for Norm’s Wheels4Freedom venture, and we were all very impressed with her work. Sam managed to get an article in the Vancouver Courier newspaper, an interview on talk radio with CKNW AM980, and a narrative piece featuring Norm, Sam, and Our House on the CTV evening news. This was all in addition to daily postings on Facebook and Gofundme where people could give money and keep track of Norm’s skate.
At the end of the rollerblading venture, Norm will have collected over $5000 in pledges and donations on Gofundme.com and Canadahelps.org; over $5,000 more is pledged from some St. Paul’s parishioners upon Norm’s completion of the skate. Thus, we will have a total of $10,000 cash. In addition, Gerry Robert, former house resident, and graduate of the program donated $16,000 towards the purchase of a van for the house. The van is a 2010 Dodge mini-van that seats seven people. This will be great for getting residents to and from St. Paul’s as residents are encouraged to attend a place of worship while they are working out problems.
Well, that is it for now. Norm will be celebrating the last day of his skate, doing two laps on Friday, September 26, 2014. He will be crossing the finish line at 11:30, so we are encouraging people to come early. Some members of Shop//Task – the rollerblading shop that donated skates and wheels for Norm’s venture - will skate with him on these final laps. People are encouraged to bike, roller-blade, or just walk around the seawall with Norm for his final laps. We are expecting parishioners from St . Paul's, and perhaps some members of the press to attend – we are sending out news releases, and all are surely welcome. You can follow Norm on twitter @Wheels4Freedom and watch his progress on the Our House Facebook page. Better yet, just come down to the swimming pool near Stanley Park’s Second Beach before 11:30am on Friday, September 26, 2014.