The Multi-Agency Accommodation Project (MAAP) opened their doors on Saturday for the official grand opening.
MAAP is a unique project that combines three local non-profits: Habitat for Humanity, Whispers of Hope and the Boundary Emergency and Transitional Housing Society (BETHS).
The grand opening included two ribbong cutting ceremonies, one for BETHS and the other for Whispers. A sod turning was also held for Habitat's Re-Store, which will begin construction in the spring. Inside, visitors were given hot drinks and treats as they explored the new facility and listened to speeches.
Some of the changes between the old facilities and the new include bunk beds for BETHS, a larger kitchen and much larger thrift shop.
Organizers have been working on the project for almost two years, but Rick Friesen, the executive director for the local Habitat, has been thinking about pooling local resources for 14 years.
“Exciting to see that as long as you keep plugging away at something -- you don’t let it die -- it actually does come to fruition in time,” he said.
There are many benefits to the project, but one of the strongest is the pooling of resources.
“In the past competed for the same funding sources,” said Friesen. “We are now going for the same funding sources as a group. It’s made us stronger as a group and it’s made us more efficient as well.”
By pooling their resources, the groups have been able to reduce their operating costs, which will allow them to increase the services they provide.
All three groups were represented at the grand opening as were Linda Larson, the Boundary Similikameen member of legislative assembly (MLA) and Grace McGregor, the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary Area C regional director.
Everyone had plenty of praise for the project.
“Truly, if you look the type of people that are going to use this … We could be any of those people at any given time,” said McGregor. “As I was standing outside today I was thinking ‘oh my God I’m just about freezing to death’ and then I looked at the sign (for BETHS) and thought, ‘yeah that is what we are doing here.’”
She added that everyone needed to be really proud of the work that had gone into making the facility a reality.
The Whispers of Hope thrift store is currently open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The community soup kitchen is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
BETHS opened its doors on Nov. 1 and will remain open through the cold months until March 31.
Habitat for Humanity is building a Re-Store to sell second-hand building materials. They had a sod turning at the grand opening but won’t break ground until the spring.