A Way Home charity of choice for motorcycle group - InfoNews

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A Way Home charity of choice for motorcycle group

McParland is homelessness manager for A Way Home Kamloops, a non-profit that advocates for youth at risk. Eleven years ago she was sleeping on a riverbank.
Image Credit: Facebook
July 09, 2019 - 12:02 PM

KAMLOOPS - A motorcycle group will be riding across the province to support a charity for homeless youth in Kamloops.

Ride to Reach is an annual motorcycle ride that raises money for various child-focused charities. Tim Kasten, the founder of the organization, said it started years ago as a simple idea with a friend.

“Nine years ago my friend Justin O’Connor and myself decided to go on a weekend ride with ten other friends, and we thought, ‘Let’s make this into a charity,’” says Kasten.

That year, the group of friends rode to support Developing World Connections in Kamloops. Nine years later, Ride to Reach has supported charities that help children who have witnessed abuse, those with juvenile diabetes, autism societies, and provided a bus and all-terrain wheelchairs to People in Motion.

“To this date, we've raised over $80,000 that has gone into local grassroots organizations here in Kamloops and in Kelowna,” Kasten says.

Kasten says this year has been the most financially successful, with nearly $25,000 already raised.

“We’re at the halfway point. Our goal this year is $50,000, it’s quite a leap from what we've done in the past, but we're getting really good support from the community. All of our networks are getting on board. When you hear what a good cause it is, it's kind of hard not to,” says Kasten.

The group will leave Kamloops on July 26, head up to Jasper, come down the Icefields Parkway, and return on July 28.

“We try to focus on organizations who deal with kids primarily, and youth in general,” says Kasten. “We’re looking for organizations that are limited budget but are doing an immense amount of work in the community, which is were Katherine comes in.”

Katherine McParland, executive director of A Way Home, says she met Kasten a few years ago while they were coming up with ways to partner with the university.

“He helped us build a counselling office with his students, and previously he built a really cool mini home. We had a vision around mini homes but we couldn’t find a way to make it work here in Kamloops,” says McParland.

Although that avenue didn't pan out, the two have kept in touch and she says that Kasten is now offering continued support through Ride to Reach.

“There are the one-off fundraisers which are really great, but as a new organization, we really need sustainability. He's committed ongoing support for us every other year,” McParland says.

The fundraiser is specifically for a program called Safe Suites, a program in the works by A Way Home which would house homeless youth and provide 24/7 staff and support. McParland says there are various obstacles to overcome before the doors could open, with finding a suitable location being at the top of the list.

“We’re having some trouble finding the right location for Safe Suites, and so now what we’d like to do is get a pilot going this fall as an interim until a permit site is secured.” says McParland.

If the Ride to Reach fundraiser meets its $50,000 goal, there will be $140,000 available for the program. McParland hopes that the funding will allow for shelter spaces to open up until Safe Suites is operational.

“We had three kids pass away last year. That's why we feel so much urgency, we’re not prepared to wait another winter with kids not having a safe place to go,” she says. “All three of those youth were on a waiting list for A Way Home and could've benefited from a program such as Safe Suites,” says McParland. “We’re really hoping that with the community coming together in such a big way well be able to open up Safe Suites.”

Although the planning for Safe Suites is still in the early stages, after presenting the idea to local community members, McParland felt hopeful that the project could soon come to fruition.

“Tim and I presented to Daybreak Rotary… and we raised $14,000 in a matter of five minutes. It was pretty amazing to see the community have such a rapid response to such an urgent issue,” says McParland.

You can check out the Ride to Reach website here, and donate to various riders through their Facebook page. Here is the A Way Home website for more information on the Safe Suites and other programs.


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