The following is the full text of remarks prepared by Mayor Christian Provenzano and Caceila Trahan for last night's launch party for the 2019 Coldest Night of the Year event.
An annual walk that raises funds for the St. Vincent Place men's shelter at 222 Albert St. E., this year's Coldest Night of the Year is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 23.
Trahan was unable to attend last night's kickoff party, but her comments were read by Sara McCleary, St. Vincent's marketing and fundraising co-ordinator.
Last year's event raised $52,000 for the shelter and its food bank, soup kitchen and thrift shop.
Walkers and teams are still being sought for the February event.
For additional information, please call 705-253-2770, extension 4.
Mayor Provenzano, 2019 honourary event chair
I'm happy to be here. I participated in this event shortly after I became the mayor in 2014.
There was a team from the city that was participating and I asked if I could join them and I did.
It was a tremendous event. That was my first volunteer effort here at St. Vincent.
Since that day, I stayed engaged in the St. Vincent community and have really enjoyed my time volunteering here.
We talked a lot about economic development.
And we have to be cognizant of and sensitive to the fact that you don't have economic development if you don't have community vitality when you have significant social equity problems.
One of the ways you have to deal with your problems is you have to acknowledge them.
We have homelessness in Sault Ste. Marie and we have food insecurity in Sault Ste. Marie, and a lot of people in Sault Ste. Marie that need our help and our support.
So it's fantastic that we have the kindness in our community and the leadership in our community that comes together to support.
It's incredibly important that those of us that can help and lend a hand do.
St. Vincent is one of the tremendous places in our community where we see that happening on a daily basis.
So as your mayor I'm proud to support this event.
I'll be participating in it.
I think it's important that we send a clear message to the community that we acknowledge that we have these social equity challenges, that there are a lot of people that need our support and need our help.
We're here to work together to find solutions together.
And so I'm here in that spirit and I'm here to assist in whatever way that I can, and I'll continue volunteering here and supporting this facility because it provides a tremendous network in our community and helps a lot of people.
I'm grateful for it and I thank you for your leadership in our community.
When I was a youth I struggled with food security.
I didn't earn enough money for food and rent and my bus pass.
I was young and living on my own, struggling to stay in high school.
I was scared to visit St.Vincent's alone on the days that they gave out food, so I would ask my family and friends to come with me.
The staff were kind to me.
As I was so young, they gave me 'school snacks' and extra items that families with school-aged children receive; as I was a child.
Today, I still see large crowds line up on the days they give out food.
I fondly remember the support I received from SVP.
It also must be acknowledged, that a decade later from my experiences, poverty and food insecurity have risen in our community.
I thank the staff, volunteers and community supporters of St.Vincent's for their kindness in my past, their efforts to address the current growing needs of our community, and the ongoing love they share for people.