Brandi Mahood and Loretta Louie are overwhelmed by the community support in the Okanagan.
Just two weeks after Loretta’s story was featured in the Vernon Morning Star, the 70-year-old homeless woman may have a permanent residence in sight.
Loretta was discovered walking along Highway 97, near Armstrong, by Brandi just before New Years. The woman had no where to live and was on her way to a laundromat to wash a dirty frozen blanket — the only belonging she had.
After meeting with the John Howard Society, Brandi says Loretta is on a list with Vernon Native Housing.
“We have managed to save more than $3,000 for Loretta thanks to everyone’s donations,” explained Brandi.
This money will be used to help supplement Loretta’s pension to pay for housing once she finds a permanent place to call home.
“I have had something like 500 emails from people asking about Loretta, sending well wishes and offering help,” said Brandi.
Some have offered rooms in their homes and even several senior’s housing centres have offered to put Loretta on a waiting list; but it’s not that simple.
“There is a reason she isn’t living with me,” said Brandi. “She has been homeless for over 10 years, she has had horrible living situations in the past in rooming houses. She needs her own space.”
Currently thanks to donations and friends of Brandi’s, Loretta is staying at a motel in Enderby. Brandi wants to find the right home for her so that she is never in this situation again.
“I’ve heard from so many people, including councillors at the City of Armstrong and I was even stopped in the grocery store by a woman who wanted to give me $10 after recognizing me from the paper.”
Donations have been as gracious as $500 from one person to a helpful $5 from those who hear Loretta’s story and want to help.
While Loretta is humbled by the donations and kind words from people, there is still a bigger picture at stake. Now, Brandi would like to focus in on this particular situation and why there isn’t better government programs for people who want to help the homeless.
“I’ve reached out to my MP, Mel Arnold, I’ve written to Premier Christy Clark, asking why there isn’t a better way someone like me can help someone like Loretta. Something similar to the refugee sponsorship program, (where I can sponsor a certain person)?” asked Brandi.
She is hoping by sharing Loretta’s story more can be done to help those who might be facing the same situation.