Jin Lin can truly see every day just how important it is to have clean shelter, a warm bed and a place to call ‘home.’
Lin, along with her husband Dali, are known most commonly throughout the Comox Valley as owners and managers of Maple Pool Camping and RV on Headquarters Road, but they also serve as an integral part of supporting those without shelter thanks to their partnership with Dawn to Dawn: Action on Homelessness Society.
“I would say that most people are so appreciative of a trailer to live,” explains Lin at her kitchen table overlooking a cluster of trailers supported by the organization. “When they have a home, their health gets improved, they have a place to lie down, sleep, watch TV. It’s just a smaller version of a home. In the beginning, I had a tenant who drank a lot. Now he has a car, he quit drinking – that will touch your heart.”
A few years ago, the Lins connected with Dawn to Dawn founder Tom Grant, and created a connection through the RV Program, a program where individuals can donate gently used RVs which are cleaned, and then placed on property at Maple Pool to house those in need.
“It’s not a long-term housing solution, but at least it gives them a roof over their head; it’s their house and they feel safe and dry,” added LIn.
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As president of the Comox Rotary Club in 2007, Grant knew he wanted to be proactive in finding out what the community needed.
He struck up a committee and quickly found out one of the mounting issues in the Valley was homelessness.
Following a community meeting, Grant, along with some of the founding board members and a grant from Rotary, created Dawn to Dawn.
“We wanted to help solve homelessness,” he says. “We knew we can’t pay rent, but we could top it up, and pay some utilities and could furnish (apartments).”
The organization began with seven apartments, which were rented under their name. They began accepting referrals from other social agencies and started pairing up people in two-bedroom apartments, eventually housing between 14 to 20 individuals.
The concept of the pairing up is to better stretch the social assistance allowances.
One person on welfare cannot afford an apartment, but two people, together, can at least come close. They use their social assistance and Dawn to Dawn bridges the gap.
While his term as Rotary president was a one-year commitment, Grant’s connection to helping those without shelter runs deep.
“My dad was orphaned and lived in hobo camps. He rode the rails working on farms,” explains Grant.
Living between Seattle and Portland, Tom’s father knew nothing of Canada until his father (Tom’s grandfather) died and Tom’s father had to leave. He arrived in the country with his brother, and knew of one relative in Canada.
“They took in his brother, but didn’t have food or a room for him – it was 1939.”
A few years later, Grant’s wife Holly became Rotary president, and asked how the organization could team up with Dawn to Dawn to work on a hands-on project.
They created the RV Program – accepting donations from anyone who was willing to donate a used trailer in exchange for a tax receipt.
Rotary offered to clean the trailers, and the Lins offered room at Maple Pool, explains Grant.
“Years later, we still get phone calls (about the program).”