Responding to Homelessness Pandemic Needs

Homelessness VictoriaUrgent Action needed: Spread compassion, Stop diseases. — You can help. Our homelessness service providers need more funding to respond to this crisis. Please donate generously to Avodah who will ensure all monies go directly to those organizations working on the front line.

On a typical night about 1,500 people in the CRD are homeless. These people face special challenges during this pandemic. Homeless people tend to be vulnerable to infections due to the combination of daily stress, chronic diseases, and poor nutrition. They often lack basic hygiene resources like sinks and clean toilets, and opportunities to bathe and wear clean clothes. They are often in crowded conditions and share food and cigarettes. Crowded shelters are particularly risky environments.

Public health officials advise people exposed to or infected by contagious diseases to stay home and minimize contact with other people. Quarantines are difficult enough for people with stable homes and reliable incomes; they are virtually impossible for people who are homeless or living in crowded or unhealthy homes. If they do become infected, they will need to stay in hospitals, using scarce beds, adding stresses and costs to overburdened public health services. Everybody benefits if we can reduce the risks of infectious diseases to homeless service providers’ clients, staff and volunteers.

Homeless service providers are acting to reduce infection risks, including more frequent cleaning of their facilities and equipment, and providing information and support to their clients. Some are closing service altogether. These efforts reduce risks to clients, staff and volunteers, but leave critical gaps and will be inadequate if COVID-19 becomes established in our community. On March 18, Our Place closed down its drop-in space, computer lab, courtyard, hygiene, and clothing area but plans to continue operating its washroom facilities, transitional housing, shelter spaces, and providing three daily meals. Cool Aid is closing its dental clinic and community centre. Our homelessness service providers need more funding to respond to this crisis.

You can help. Our homelessness service providers need more funding to respond to this crisis. Please donate generously to Avodah who will ensure all monies go directly to those organizations working on the front line. The synagogue office is closed but Zelda can access the shul’s telephone number and is working from home. Send her an email or call (250)-382-0615 and if necessary leave a phone message, letting her know that you wish to donate and she will get back to you.

Project Tikkun Olam Hillel

Hillel Blanket Drive image

Pick-up November 21 – 22, 2018 — Warm the winter for the homeless. UVic Students have launched a blanket drive with pick-up scheduled for November 21 – 22, 2018.  Please support this cause by donating a blanket for the homeless (new or gently used). The students will pick-up your donation from your home.  For information contact Ora Stefanic, UVic Director at 250-361-7661 or

Help the Homeless! Donate goods and/or funds!

Project Connect 1.2

On Tuesday, October 9, 2018 at Central Baptist Church, 833 Pandora Avenue, the Downtown Service Providers, as part of Homeless Action Week, will host PROJECT CONNECT, a one-day service fair that assists those struggling with homelessness and poverty, and includes foot-care, professional photographs, haircuts, information booths, and a lunch. We will serve anywhere from 500-700 people.

Project Connect needs goods and funds. Please help!

Project Connect welcomes the following goods:
Socks, underwear, scarves, toques, rain jackets, backpacks, bus tickets, notebooks and paper, Tim Horton’s gift cards, bandaids, Polysporin, razors, handheld USB chargers.

Project Connect welcomes financial donations which will be spent for the day by purchasing the listed  items or for the lunch. All cheques should be made out to The Our Place Society with “Project Connect” in the memo line.

Donation Drop Off Times at Anawim House at 973 Caledonia Avenue:
• Friday, October 5, 9:30 am -7:00 pm
• Saturday, October 6, 9:30 am -2:30 pm

If you wish to volunteer, please contact Michelle Later at Cool Aid at:

Our Place: Can you spare a bus ticket?


Many of the Our Place family struggle to find transportation to appointments with the doctor, the dentist, the hospital, social services, the parole officer, job interviews and even to visit with family.

Dropping off a few Victoria transit bus tickets allows our Spiritual Care Team to say “yes” when asked for transportation to important destinations.

Please drop off your tickets at the Our Place Reception desk at 919 Pandora Ave. Please put them in an envelope marked “Spiritual Care” to ensure we received them in our office. Thank you for your continuing generosity to the Our Place family.

Spiritual Care Team 250-388-7112 ext 237

Purim Cookie Drive

March 2, 9 and 16, 10am–2pm

This year, for Purim, Avodah is holding a cookie drive for the Victoria Dandelion Society

Reverend Alan Tysick has requested community members to make home-baked cookies for him to give out to people on Victoria’s streets early in the morning. Every weekday, Rev. Al gives out about 200 cookies a day!  

Please bring your cookies (wrapped or packaged) to Congregation Emanu-El on the following three Thursdays:  March 2, 9 and 16, 10am–2pm.  Or, you can email Penny Tennenhouse to arrange bringing cookies to her home.This could be a fun family Purim project to give to those in need. Thank you so much. Watch the video.

Our Place seeks volunteers and donations


Volunteer Opportunities

Program Volunteers for the Choices site in View Royal Mondays & Thursdays
2:30 to 4:30 pm. 

hosts for Saturday Night at the Movies – your group of 4
volunteers provides the pop & pizza for a special evening of fun for the
Our Place Family. 

contact Julianne at 250-480-8927 or

Donations Needed

Our Spiritual Care Team needs mittens for our elderly family members with arthritic hands that don’t fit into gloves.

Our Spiritual Care Team is looking for gently used board games with all the pieces.

mandate includes the provision of off-site health and educational opportunities
to our Transitional Housing residents. We are currently seeking new or gently
used umbrellas for the residents accessing these activities. 

Please bring donations to Our Place Society at 919 Pandora Ave and let the reception desk know these donations are for the Spiritual Care Department.

Our Place welcomes donations in kind

Our Place strives to meet the needs of its large extended family and welcomes donations in kind. Please consider
donating the following:*

  • Winter clothing
    Winter has come to Victoria and many of the
    Our Place family find themselves without adequate warm
    clothing and supplies for the cold days and frigid nights. Please check your closets for gently used extra coats, scarves, gloves, hats and sleeping bags that are in good condition and bring them to Our Place Recep tion.
  • Bus tickets
    Transportation to medical, dental and job interviews is often difficult for our family members. Our Spiritual
    office tries to keep a supply of
    Tickets in our office to assist individuals who need them for these
    important appointments. Please consider
    making a donation of Bus
    Tickets to the Spiritual Care office at Our Place.
  • Nutritional supplements
    Many of our family often have issues
    with nutrition because of chronic health issues. Our Spiritual Care office tries to keep a supply of Boost & Ensure supplements in our office to help individuals we know are
    struggling with nutrition issues.

*Bring donations in kind to Our Place Society at 919 Pandora Ave, Victoria, BC
V8V 3N4, Canada

Congregation Emanu-El Presents: An Afternoon with Rev Allen Tysick

Sunday, March 1, 2pm


Rev Al, simply put, is a lifesaver to Victoria’s most vulnerable and right from the get go, our own Avodah has been a strong supporter.  No stranger to poverty in his youth, Rev Al was one of the prime movers behind Our Place and was the director from its inception in 2007 until 2011, when he left to found the Dandelion Society.

With Dandelion, Rev Al and his dedicated volunteers are truly at the sharp end of poverty in our city, a position incorporated into Dandelion’s Mission Statement:  

We live out our mission by being present in the places that shelter those who are forgotten, those who have fallen through the cracks of the system. We don’t have an office, instead we do all our work on the streets, in hospitals, and in jails, meeting those who are homeless wherever they are.

You will be moved to tears of sorrow and tears of laughter by Rev Al’s stories; you may be surprised to hear his views, grounded in hard experience, regarding our current welfare system and why it is so obviously failing; you may be inspired by his sense of hope and by his suggestions as to what each of us can do to improve that system.

Rev Al’s talk will be followed by question time then a chance to meet and engage with him personally, over tea and cookies.  In honour of Rev Al and the work he does – all donations received will go to the Dandelion Society.

Please do your best to spread the word about this important talk and of course – we hope to see you there.

February 25, 2015 update: Anna Bowness, Manager for the Times Colonist Spiritually Speaking blog has published information about Congregation Emanu-El’s Afternoon with Allen Tysick. There are also articles by Lincoln Shlensky and Amber Woods. 

Sleeping Bag Blitz Update


Avodah is very pleased to report that thanks to our caring, generous donors, Avodah has bought 66 new sleeping bags and 50 mylar emergency blankets to meet the critical need of people living on the street.

Pictured are Jackie Saunders-Ritchie and Brian Saunders delivering the sleeping bags and emergency blankets on Dec. 22 to Rev. Alan Tysick, of the Dandelion Society. Rev. Al, in thanking Avodah, said,

Sleeping bags are in very big demand right now. Freezing temperatures can be fatal for people sleeping on the streets.

Avodah has also received and donated twenty new blankets to the Greater Victoria Extreme Weather Response Plan, which kicks in on the coldest nights of the year to provide emergency shelter.

Sincere thanks to all our donors who responded so immediately to our sleeping bag appeal, with special thanks to Sleeping Bag Lady Jackie for her determination and action to get these much-needed sleeping bags out on the streets asap!

Avodah invites and thanks you for your donations, which make it possible for us to help people in huge need. Together, with your support, we can continue to make a difference in our community.

Sleeping bag blitz!


BRRRRRRR…..itʼs cold out

Avodah has the goal of raising enough money to provide 100 new sleeping bags to people living on the street

  • $25 will buy 1 sleeping bag
  • $50 will buy 2 sleeping bags
  • $75 will buy 3 sleeping bags

Share the light & warmth of Hanukkah with those in need

Please be generous; a sleeping bag is the ʻhomeʼ for a person living on the street.

Please write your cheque to Congregation Emanu-El with “Avodah/Sleeping Bag" at the bottom of the cheque.