CEO sleepout to raise cash for homeless
Winnipeg Free Press – September 14, 2011
By: Geoff Kirbyson
THERE’S going to be plenty of brain power sleeping under the stars at Portage and Main on Sept. 29, but it’s their collective fundraising abilities that have Stefano Grande excited.
The executive director of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ is hoping more than 30 business leaders and a few celebrity friends who have agreed to participate in the CEO for Downtown Sleepout can raise $100,000 to fight homelessness.
The money will go to the BIZ’s Change for the Better initiative, which supports homeless employment programs such as Siloam Mission’s Mission: Off the Streets Team.
It’s estimated 1,500 to 2,000 people are homeless in Winnipeg. The situation is less obvious here than in other cities because the harshness of the winters forces homeless people to find shelter indoors for several months a year.
“Everyone we approached recognized the importance of this issue. It’s not just the job of non-government organizations; there’s a huge role for the corporate community to play,” he said.
The event will start with breakfast in the morning in front of 201 Portage Ave., followed by entertainment and lunch, all designed to encourage the public to donate. Once the sun goes down, the CEOs and friends will hunker down for the night in their sleeping bags.
Bob Cox, publisher of the Free Press, said he won’t be bringing a truckload of camping supplies because that would defeat the purpose of experiencing, in a small way, what homeless people regularly go through.
“You don’t bring very much because homeless people don’t have very much,” he said. “Homelessness affects all of us. All you have to do is drive or walk down the street and you see it.”
Participating business leaders include Arlene Wilgosh (Winnipeg Regional Health Authority), Art DeFehr (Palliser Furniture), Colin Ferguson (Travel Manitoba), Carole Vivier (Manitoba Film & Music), Ross McGowan (CentreVenture) and Stuart Murray (Canadian Museum for Human Rights).