For Social Service Worker student Mia Bakker, poverty and homelessness aren’t just subjects she is learning about in class.
Bakker and her team called ‘Miracle Workers’ a working to raise awareness of both as participants of the 24-hour live-in-your car-a-thon, No Fixed Address.
To take place on August 12-13 at the Pen Centre parking lot, the annual event is held as a fundraiser for the YWYCA Niagara Region. Each dollar raised will be donated to the YWCA which provides emergency shelter, transitional housing and Life Skills programs for homeless women and their families.
Participants will not only experience sleeping in a car, eat from a ‘convenience store diet’ and face the difficulties in finding restrooms when needed; they will hear from those who have lived in poverty and have an opportunity to take part in a variety of activities to gain a greater understanding about poverty and homelessness.
“I want to be a part of this event because I think it’s an amazing way to raise awareness,” said Bakker.
The 26-year old St. Catharines resident heard about the event while working at the YWCA in St. Catharines (on King Street) as part of her program placement. At the shelter, she has learned to do intakes, process notes, perform bedroom checks, discharges, medication registration and more. Students like Bakker rotate between the YWCA’s emergency shelter, family shelter, off-site transitional housing and transitional housing programs as part of their placements.
The event sparked her interest and she decided to volunteer as well as put t a team together to participate.
“Because of the program we are in, we did a whole study on poverty so I knew going into this placement how bad poverty is in the Niagara region, but being part of the shelter you see a side to poverty other people don’t get to experience,” she said. “I have been able to see the difficulties that clients have to face and also the struggles that the staff have to face by having to turn down women or not being able to meet their needs due to money.”
Bakker said she feels it’s important to participate due to her own personal experience. When she was
younger, she lived in a shelter for three months with her mother. “At the time I didn’t understand all the aspects of living in a shelter and what the clients and staff are faced with – all I knew was I got three meals and a bedroom with my mom,” she said.
She also recalled the challenges she had to face alone when her son was born seven years ago.
“Now that I’m older, I love the idea of giving back to the YWCA participating in this event,” she said.
Bakker’s growing team of ‘Miracle Workers’ includes her Social Service Worker classmates Jordan Turner, Samantha Campbell, Melissa Boychuck and Lacey Phillips.
The team is gathering sponsors and has raised almost $500 to date. Those interested in donating, may visit the team’s fundraising page at:
For information about No Fixed Address visit www.ywcaniagararegion.ca/events/no-fixed-address/