Victoria Cool Aid Society
Our Impact Why We Exist
The Victoria Cool Aid Society acts to end homelessness and improve our quality of life by working with others to build a community where:
- No one is forced to sleep on the street or go hungry.
- Everyone who needs supportive housing is getting it.
- Integrated health care service to treat illness and promote wellness is provided.
- Integrated services are provided to those with mental health and addiction issues.
Our Story What We Do
The Victoria Cool Aid Society traces its origins to June 10, 1968, when "Cool Aid" was officially founded to provide emergency shelter for transient youth travelling the country. On August 18, 1970, the "Cool Aid Free Medical Clinic " opened its doors. On July 29, 1971, the "Cool Aid Youth Hostel" opened. On May 3, 1972, the "Fernwood Dental Clinic" began operation.
On October 28, 1976, Cool Aid was incorporated as the Victoria Cool Aid Society. Throughout the 1980s, Cool Aid grew as one of British Columbia’s largest non-profit organizations. Today, the society operates a diverse range of housing, social and health services for those in our community who are most vulnerable. The Victoria Cool Aid Society works to eliminate homelessness by advocating for and providing clients with supported housing, emergency shelter, and integrated health and life skill services - and has been doing so since 1968.
Read Cool Aid's full history at www.CoolAid.org/history.
Our Programs How We Do It
The Society currently operates the following, and other, services:
- 374 modest apartments with support services for people who have been homeless.
- Three emergency shelters with 125 permanent beds for people who are homeless.
- A Community Health Centre, which provides primary health care including counselling, dental care and a pharmaceutical dispensary for over 4,000 low-income patients.
- The Downtown Community Centre provides free healthy living and skills programming.
- The REES Program provides a variety of employment and volunteer support services for people living with mental health and addiction challenges.
- Cool Aid served over 215,000 meals last year.
These programs are delivered by a staff of 260 compassionate workers operating in 14 different buildings within three divisions: housing, health care and emergency shelter. The Society’s operating budget for 2012-13 is $18.0 million with an administrative and fundraising cost of less than 8%.
In the past five years, the Society has led the community in the delivery of many additional services for people who are homeless and vulnerable including the following new programs:
- A $5.3 million capital campaign for the Access Health Centre allowed the society to double the space available and serve hundreds of more patients annually.
- The opening of Rock Bay Landing emergency shelter added five additional shelter beds, 23 units of transitional housing and the first two units of family shelter in the Capital Region.
- The old Streetlink shelter was converted into 23 new apartments for people who have been homeless at the Swift House location.
- The opening of Olympic Vista allowed the society to house an additional 36 seniors who have experienced homelessness and require a supportive living environment.
- An old Traveller’s Inn hotel has been converted into 36 units of supportive housing for people who have been chronically homeless for years including many of the people who had been camping out on the 700 block of Pandora.
- Widespread community and Victoria Foundation support has allowed the society to double the number of open hours at the Downtown Community Centre and provide new programming in the evenings and weekends when most other services are closed.
- Desmond House, single room occupancy supportive housing with 27 units.
What You Can Do
Your generous compassion ensures that we can work towards ending homelessness in Greater Victoria by 2018. Because of you, fewer Victorians will be forced to go hungry or sleep outside. You’re building homes, lives and community for the most vulnerable people in Victoria. So thank you! We couldn’t do it without you.
If you’re interested in partnering with us on an ongoing basis, consider becoming a monthly donor. These gifts help the most to make a lasting difference in vulnerable people’s lives.