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Burnaby couple on a mission to secure safe housing for 81-Year-Old 

In December 2023, Burnaby residents Jennifer Aalders and her husband Timothy Selby dedicated their time to assisting 81-year-old Joy in finding a place to stay. Their journey began earlier in the month when they encountered Joy, who was living on a bench at Renfrew Street bus stop. The old lady was asked to move away from the bus stop as someone complained and called the police on her. Seeing her condition, the couple offered their help and got to know her a little.

Joy, who prefers not to disclose her full name, has faced significant hardships. Before her current state of homelessness, she lived in a van and relied on temporary arrangements like couch-surfing. Aalders and Selby were deeply moved by Joy’s situation, especially considering her age, and committed themselves to finding her a safe living environment. They recognized the unique challenges she faced, particularly given that most shelters in the Greater Vancouver Area are primarily designed for people with addictions, mental health issues, or those escaping domestic violence. Joy did not fit these demographics and the available shelters triggered a great deal of stress and fear in her. She suffers from severe allergies to cigarette smoke and has experienced physical harm and mistreatment during her time without a home, making her particularly vulnerable.

To address this, Aalders initiated a GoFundMe campaign titled “Safe Temporary Housing for Grandma” in early December, with the goal of raising $8,000 to support Joy through the winter months. The campaign was a resounding success, garnering over $18,000 in donations within a month. Aalders has been diligent in providing updates on the fundraiser page, sharing Joy’s progress and the positive impact of the support received. These updates have included heartwarming stories of Joy’s experiences, such as enjoying a meal at a restaurant, receiving a confidence-boosting haircut, finding private accommodation, and having access to basic necessities.

At present, Joy is at a temporary accommodation, is happy and immensely thankful to everyone for helping, especially Aalders and her husband Tim for their support. Aalders has a message for everyone about helping those in need, “I just know it takes a little boldness to go up and talk to someone and ask if they need help, it takes a little encouragement to accept help, it takes a little support from those closest to you to know that they will take on this endeavor with you, and finally it takes community coming together to see it through.”

Joy’s situation sheds light on a broader issue affecting many seniors. According to the latest Metro Vancouver Homeless Count, there are 568 individuals over the age of 55 experiencing homelessness, with 10 percent facing this plight for the first time in their senior years.

Source: CTV News