The Grind Pembroke holds the coldest night hike of the year in February

The Grind Pembroke holds the coldest night hike of the year in February

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Imagine a dark, cold winter night in Pembroke. Now imagine that you have no warm cover to seek refuge under; you have no bed, in fact no walls and no shelter from the storm. You have not eaten because you have no food, let alone hot food to help stave off the impending cold. In this world you are alone and shaking in the dark.

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Next month, area residents will walk through the streets of Pembroke to help raise funds for The Grind Pembroke in an effort to turn this scenario into a scenario of warmth and hope for some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

The coldest night of the year (CNOY) returns on February 26, when residents of the area will band together to raise money and go in support of The Grind. The event is a family-friendly, fundraising walk to help people experiencing hunger, hurt and homelessness in Pembroke. That same evening, tens of thousands of people across the country will take to the streets for the coldest night events of the year, taking place in 150 other cities, towns and communities.

The idea is coming together in the cold of the night that attendees will better understand the experience of being on the streets during a cold Canadian winter while raising funds to help a local charity work to provide support. In Renfrew County, the charity is The Grind, and participants will walk a two-mile or five-mile route and warm up with toasty drinks at rest stops along the way. All those who raise over $ 150 (or $ 75 for teens) will also be wearing iconic CNOY toques when faced with the cold night.

“It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year, and it’s what helps keep The Grind capable of helping the vulnerable in our community,” said Bonnie Harnett, The Grind administrative assistant. “It’s a fun event and everyone gets involved and we have a lot of surprises going on this year that will show up on social media.”

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Harnett noted that the first CNOY walk for The Grind in Pembroke was held in 2017. Last year’s event, a virtual walk, raised $ 80,000 and allowed a new commercial kitchen to be built on The Grind’s new location in the former Pembroke fire hall.

Participants embark on their two-kilometer, five-kilometer or 10-kilometer walk when the 2020 edition of the Coldest Night of the Year walks-a-thon leaves Wesley United Church Hall on Saturday, February 22nd.  Anthony Dixon
Participants embark on their two-kilometer, five-kilometer or 10-kilometer walk when the 2020 edition of the Coldest Night of the Year walks-a-thon leaves Wesley United Church Hall on Saturday, February 22nd. Anthony Dixon Photo by Anthony Dixon /jpg, PM

The organizing committee is hoping for a personal walk in 2022, but with the ongoing COVID pandemic, it may become necessary for the event to become virtual again with participants holding their own walks and submitting photos and videos.

Harnett said people who want to participate should jump on the Internet and go to cnoy.org/Pembroke to sign up as a walker or as a team. Hope is to see about 300 people and 50 teams participate.

This year’s event is more important than event, according to Harnett, with a growing demand for The Grind and its programming.

“We see a much greater need for service navigation for our customers,” Harnett said. “(The Grind helps them) navigate the resources that are out there that can help them get shelter, food, clothes, all that, because that’s what we do. We service navigate, we do not advise. We find where they are going and we make sure they get the right resources. ”

The Grind is not a state-funded agency and relies on fundraising to operate. Last year alone, The Grind served over 16,000 meals.

“We want to make sure they have warm stomachs. You can not live in this world without food and shelter,” Harnett said.

Deacon Adrien Chaput, chairman of The Grind Community Kitchen and board member of The Grind Pembroke, is energetic and ready to go.

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“I’m totally excited, this is amazing,” Chaput said. “I can not wait for more and more people to join us, for captains to form teams and come together for this special event to raise money for our The Grind Pembroke and to be able to help those in need in our community .”

Anyone interested in volunteering is asked to email thegrindpembroke@gmail.com.

Harnett said she wants people to remember that it’s really cold out there.

“Last year, we helped 297 people get into shelter. It is one of those things that is needed and we are needed because we are their advocates; we are in favor of these people and it is my passion to make sure we have the money available so we can continue to help them, ”Harnett said.

Event Registration: cnoy.org/Pembroke

adixon@postmedia.com

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