Off-road driving club getting staff at Halifax shelters to work despite storm
Project began last year with Adsum House, then expanded to more Halifax shelters
Workers who serve some of the most vulnerable people in Halifax are getting a lift to and from shelters, courtesy of a local off-road club.
The Pirate Off-Road Nation partnered with Adsum House last year to drive workers through winter storms. This year, the club has expanded that service.
It's now co-ordinating drives for staff at several shelters in Halifax, including Adsum House, Phoenix Youth Programs, Bryony House and Out of the Cold.
Some of those shelters are open overnight or have staff available 24 hours a day.
'They're close to full'
"It's a lot of people who ... need to go home and rest when their shift is over. They need to come in and it doesn't matter what the weather is like," said Sheri Lecker, executive director of Adsum House.
"It's essential that all the shelters be properly resourced so that people can safely be cared for."
A snowstorm is a busy time for the shelter staff, Lecker said.
"People are either showing up or they're staying. They're probably not going out either," Lecker said. "The shelters are, if they're not full, they're close to full."
Jessica Brunet, the captain of the Halifax chapter of Pirate Off-Road Nation, said her members were happy to volunteer their time for the shelter workers.
'They have to get there'
"Because it's such an essential service, there's no option for them," she said. "They have to get there. And instead of them having to spend the night at the shelter, we want to make sure they can actually get home and to work safely. We know they're so short-staffed as it is. Anything to make it easier for them."
'Some of the guys, if they weren't doing these drives, they'd probably be out playing in the snow anyway.'- Jessica Brunet, Pirate Off-Road Nation
By midday Monday, the club had given about 20 rides. They are expecting to give between 40 and 50 rides by Tuesday at noon. The club is travelling all over the municipality, including Dartmouth, Sackville and Prospect.
"It's going relatively smoothly considering that the roads are the way they are," said Brunet.
'This is beautiful'
Brunet said although many of their pickups are in residential subdivisions that haven't been plowed, none of their drivers have ended up stuck yet. All are experienced at driving in the winter, and have vehicles equipped for the conditions.
"Let me put it this way: some of the guys, if they weren't doing these drives, they'd probably be out playing in the snow anyway," said Brunet.
Len Spencer, the vice-president of operations for the Pirate Off-Road Nation, said Monday the conditions around the city were bad enough that he would recommend most people stay home — but he personally was enjoying the weather.
"As a rule you don't go out in these conditions, and for us, this is beautiful," he said.