Why I Walk For Coldest Night of the Year

By Robbie Kelly

I hate the winter. Seriously hate it. The cold is one of my least favourite things in the world. I dread the thought of my quick run from the warm car to the warmer cozy house. I am so blessed that is where my exposure to the cold ends most days. I know far too many who have no choice but to be out in the worst of it. 

 

I have seen how quickly precarious housing situations can turn and leave someone with no where to go, no options. It isn’t always the dark and tragic story we think it is – sometimes it’s a great kid from a broken home with no stable supports in their life. In reality we are all a series of misfortunes or a few choices away from being out in the cold. 

 

For me, seeing the number of kids who toe that line is a heart breaking but sobering reality. The kids who have to build a rotation of friends’ homes to crash at for a few nights because home isn’t safe, who worry every month that this will be the month they finally get evicted because their parents can’t possibly make ends meet. As I sit and converse and learn these kids’ stories it becomes crystal clear that this is the cycle their family has been in for generations. It’s all they know. 

That’s where we come in. I am proud to be a part of Why Not because we work every day to learn these kids stories, to create the safe space they crave to come and see what life can be for them. To see a way that is different from the only cycle they have ever known. We support them with their education, help them navigate the systems that exist to help them survive – but are so often too difficult to navigate for those who need them. We help to provide them with the resources and knowledge they need to break out of the cycle they were born into. But the most important part? We relate with them. We form those stable, loving, supportive relationships. Because we are social creatures – without those relationships we cannot thrive. I think especially of the young couple and their baby girl that I have come to love like my own flesh and blood – a young couple with the odds stacked against them, who on paper should not be able to make it as successful thriving parents – yet against all odds are working and growing and striving to be the kind of parents who launch their child out of the cycle they’ve known. 

Is it hard? Heck yes. 

Can they do it? Absolutely! 

They have it in them. 

The world might look at them and see differently, but we can see that potential and call it out and build these safe relationships. 

 

This is why Why Not matters so much to me – because the only thing that can help change the lives of young people heading towards poverty, homelessness and total defeat – is real, positive, supportive relationships. That’s what we do here at Why Not. That’s one small drop in the bucket of what the funds raised from Coldest Night of the Year allow us to do as we work to empower these young people to rise above their beginnings and thrive!