Passion Piece raises money and awareness for Raincity Housing
// Sarah Mansour

“Many passions, one purpose” was the slogan for Passion Piece, a fundraising music event that took place on Thursday at the Anza Club. Inspired by support from an anonymous donor, former Capilano students Amanda Cook and Miryam Bishop put the event together to encourage others to express their passions and draw support for a local cause.

The cause this year was supporting local nonprofit organization Raincity Housing, but Cook hopes to target other organizations next year and anticipates to eventually run the show as a festival. “We want it to be a lot more than [a benefit concert], we want it to be an event where people can bring their capabilities, and donate what they can do,” said Cook.

An audience comprised mostly of universityage youth was drawn in to the sounds of local bands including The Boom Booms and Ponderosas. They participated in a raffle, and got their faces painted or feather-extensions put in their hair by donation. On every table, painted puzzle pieces accompanied brochures from Raincity Housing.

Cook was drawn to Raincity because she appreciated the easy accessibility of information on their website and their clear vision: “A home for every person.” After visiting the shelter, the reality of where their money should go hit home: “I had a chance to go to the shelter and speak with the people who work there. I hope to spend more time and continue to support them,” said Cook.

Bill Briscall, communications manager, explains that Raincity Housing encourages such events because people want to help and be involved. Raincity depends on financial support from third-party events, donors, and the government; however, such events are even more important in that they expose the significance of their work. “An event like this heightens our profile, and may lead to regular people who want to donate,” says Briscall.

Located in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, Raincity Housing aims not only to provide housing, but also help break the cycle of homelessness. They set themselves apart from other programs in Vancouver because of their “housing first” approach, providing shelter for the street-ridden even if they are unstable and substance users. “People have had to get to a certain point to access a certain [type of] housing,” explains Bricall. “For example, if someone was using, they wouldn't qualify. We want to get a roof over peoples heads, look at the issues, and address the issues. We've had people who remain housed through the program.”

Homelessness is a visible issue in Vancouver, and Briscall, who has been working at Raincity Housing for more than ten years, explains that he first fell into the mistake of trying to fix people without acknowledging that it is another person's life. People fall into the cycle of homelessness due to substance use and acquire health issues and addictions; the real catalyst for change is a positive environment, which programs such as Raincity's aim to provide, according to Briscall.

“They have a supportive environment where they were being supported for issues that lead to addiction. They may have experienced health issues and our job is finding what they needed and not reacting,” said Briscall. The funds from Passion Piece will be put towards the Healthy Living program at Raincity, an initiative that provides the second step after clients receive shelter. “It's about getting out of survival mode and [teaching them to] do something with their time. They join a photography club, become involved in a community garden or an art class,” said Briscall. Working with a community integration support worker, they begin to find a purpose in their lives.

Greg Cornish, a resident of the Downtown Eastside, is one of the more successful participants in the program. An avid volunteer and selfdescribed social butterfly, his problem was never substance addiction or crime. He found himself homeless after losing his family and home, and suffering from a stroke that left him partially paralyzed and unable to work. “If not for this program, I would be on the streets,” he said. Cornish has been active in the program and helped equip the deck on his floor with his carpentry work. In addition to volunteering regularly through the program and for the city of Vancouver, he hopes to eventually get back into the workforce and live independently.

Although Raincity doesn't have a volunteer program, Briscall encourages anyone to participate by donating and being involved in fundraising events. In regards to the students who organized Passion Piece he says, “It's great that people take initiative and arrange events like [this] that they are passionate about.”

// Celina Kurz, Copy Editor
// Illustration by Katie So

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