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Camping out to help Kamloops youth get safe suites

Youth homelessness organization A Way Home is working with Domino's Pizza to raise money to create safe suites.

Youth homelessness organization A Way Home is working with Domino's Pizza to raise money to create safe suites. A Way Home manager Katherine McParland said the suites are intended to function as a bridge from the streets into housing and stability -- somewhere they can stay while looking at their options for employment or education and a return to life off the streets.

The organization wants to raise $300,000 in order to provide 24-hour staffing -- something McParland said is important to help youth get off and stay off the streets.

"The streets can come into their homes and youth can be very unsafe. Our goal is to provide them a safe place where they can have warm meals and start looking at healing," McParland said.

To help raise the money, A Way Home has partnered with Kamloops Domino's owner Rocky Hunter, who will donate 1,000 pizzas to the cause and camp out with the group.

Until Dec. 15, medium pepperoni, cheese and Hawaiian pizzas are available at all three Kamloops Domino's locations for $10 each using the coupon code "YOUTH." All proceeds will go toward the safe suites housing project.

Hunter said there will also be pizzas for sale at a drive-thru set up near the North Shore Domino's location -- at Fortune Drive and Tranquille Road -- where the event will take place on Friday, Dec. 15.

The 2016 Kamloops youth homelessness count conducted by A Way Home identified 129 young people who had experienced homelessness, including 56 who were homeless at the time of the survey.

The issue is one McParland has experienced herself, having been homeless in the past.

"When I first experienced street homelessness, it was the first snowfall of the year, so in the wintertime, I always think about the young people who are out there without shelter over their heads," she said.

Among those joining Hunter and McParland at the camp-out will be city councillors Donovan Cavers, Tina Lange and Kathy Sinclair.

Sinclair said the issue is one close to her heart because she has had family members affected by homelessness.

"There's a lot of stigma attached to some of these issues, especially addiction," she said. "When we see a youth on the street asking for money, we all tend to make judgments, but it's a chance to invite people to look beyond what you might see on the outside."

Sinclair said she is camping out in the hopes it will give her more empathy for the issue of youth homelessness -- and she doesn't think she'll be getting much sleep that night.

"It's a luxury for me to be able to do this for just one night and then be able to go home to my safe bed," she said.

McParland will host an opening presentation for the event at 3 p.m. on Dec. 15 at the North Shore Domino's Pizza outlet, at 789 Fortune Dr.

The camp-out will start at 10 p.m. For more information, email