The H.O.P.E. Outreach volunteers are out seven nights a week lending supplies and support to sex trade workers. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

The H.O.P.E. Outreach volunteers are out seven nights a week lending supplies and support to sex trade workers. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Small upgrade makes big difference for Kelowna outreach service

A Penticton not-for-profit donated a new phone to Kelowna’s H.O.P.E. Outreach

A new partnership is bringing much-needed help to Kelowna’s H.O.P.E. Outreach.

H.O.P.E. executive director Angie Lohr said they’re very grateful for other organizations’ help after the South Okanagan Women In Need Society (SOWINS) donated an extra cellphone to the Kelowna not-for-profit.

Lohr said since they’re planning on extending their service area down to Penticton in the spring, she met with SOWINS to get to know them. When they discussed the services they offer, the topic of phones came up.

“H.O.P.E. has always been grassroots, which means we use my personal number for everything, so my number is everywhere,” she said.

“Not that I mind… but it does mean I get calls including women looking for shelter, families looking for their kids, new women that came into town looking for services, as well as crisis calls.”

Lohr said SOWINS has a partnership with Telus, and together, they decided to extend their plan to Kelowna so H.O.P.E. Outreach can now have an active line that clients can call when they need help.

She said they’re now designing new business cards and posters with the new number, which should all be printed and ready to hand out by December. Lohr added that the number will also be made available to women who use H.O.P.E.’s services in Vernon.

“We’ll have trained volunteers that will carry this phone… this way, one person isn’t so inundated with all the calls because we’ll have more people manning the phone and taking some of the pressure off my personal phone number.”

She said they’re excited to have the new phone as it will help streamline H.O.P.E. Outreach’s work.

Lohr said the next goal is to have a program like SOWINS, where they hand out phones to men and women in need to help them connect to other services, but that won’t be until next year.

Still, she said they want to put the call out for more devices.

“As a city, maybe we should all come together. Everyone’s got an old phone. If we had a provider that would gift us with a plan, that would go a long way,” she said.

“This is just a good opportunity to keep our vulnerable safe. This way they can dial 911, 211, 811 and whatever else they might need.”

READ: Kelowna women’s outreach group expands to support men amid ‘stressful and uncertain times’

Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
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