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VIDEO: Opening of Kelowna's newest shelter comes with high hopes

For the manager of Kelowna's newest emergency shelter, the February 1 opening can't come soon enough.

"We're really excited to get open and start to know the clients that are around and start working with everybody," said Caitlin Mckenny.

While we spoke with Mckenny, just a few blocks away, a handful of people are emerging from their makeshift encampments in the spot the city sets aside for the purpose on Baille Avenue.

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia

It's those people and others in similar circumstances that Mckenny is eager to help.

"I will definitely be making my rounds down there just to let them know that we are around the corner," she said.

Even with the 38 emergency beds that the Richter Street Shelter adds, it's believed that there will still be people left out in the cold. A bed for everyone somehow feels impossible.

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia

"I think we're getting closer," said Mckenny.

The shelter will provide meals, laundry and showers. It's basic stuff. But there is always hope that it's a step toward something better than just that.

"Once they're in our shelter we'll do our best to work with them and be able to guide them into a direction of other resources in our community, she said. "So that's our goal.

<who>Photo credit: NowMedia </who>

And sometimes there are successes. And that's what motivates people like Caitlin Mckenny to come to work.

"Absolutely. That's why I do the job I do. It's a really rewarding job. Seeing the clients being able to succeed in even the littlest things in their life is something that is amazing."

There is some support from the businesses in the area, but there is also fear that the shelter will bring problems.

Mckenny said she's already made an effort to open lines of communications so that any problems that arise can be dealt with quickly.

"We will do our best to assess it and deal with it, she said.

"We do have 24-hour security that will be on-site," she explained. "And that will be doing ground walks around to make sure that people who are not staying within our shelter are not hanging around. And that goes with our clients as well and they will be moved-along if they don't need to be here."

Today, staff were in training sessions inside the former Tree Brewing location in preparation for next week's opening. It will be the third temporary shelter operating in Kelowna. Combined with the three year-round shelters, it brings the total capacity up to 265 during the winter.

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