Wrap up warm and walk for the Wilmot Family Resource Centre’s Coldest Night of the Year

By Nigel Gordijk  Saturday, February 19, 2022

WFRC’s Feb. 26 event will raise funds to support its work and help to highlight homelessness in rural townships

Wilmot Family Resource Centre’s executive director Trisha Robinson hopes this year’s Coldest Night of the Year event will raise $25,000 for people who are experiencing hurt, hunger and homelessness. (Photo: Nigel Gordijk)

Wilmot Family Resource Centre’s executive director Trisha Robinson hopes this year’s Coldest Night of the Year event will raise $25,000 for people who are experiencing hurt, hunger and homelessness. (Photo: Nigel Gordijk)


The temperature is likely to be seasonably frigid on Feb. 26 when Wilmot Family Resource Centre (WFRC) hosts its fifth annual Coldest Night of the Year (CONY) fundraiser. Nevertheless, they’re hoping Wilmot and Wellesley residents will wrap up warm and support those who are experiencing hunger and homelessness in the townships.

Every year, tens of thousands of people join one of the 150 CONY walking events that are held across the country, giving them just a taste of what it feels like to live on the streets during a cold, Canadian winter.

Local participants are asked to collect pledges that will help to fund WFRC’s work in the community.

“Coldest Night of the Year is a family-friendly walk to raise money for local charities serving people who are experiencing hurt, hunger and homelessness,” said Trisha Robinson, executive director of the social services organization.

She’s hoping that about 150 expected walkers will push the non-profit past this year’s target of $25,000. Adults who raise over $150 – or $75 for youth – will receive a toasty toque. Donations can be made at www.cnoy.org/location/wilmot.

The event will be virtual for the second year, with walkers choosing either a 2km or 5km route, anywhere they wish, at anytime during the day.

Typically, WFRC would use one of Wilmot’s community centres as its registration base, offering a warm welcome for participants before they begin their walk, and a bowl of hot chilli when they return. However, public health restrictions mean that large groups of people can’t currently gather indoors. Robinson said she hopes CONY will be back to being an in-person affair next year.

Despite the virtual format, she’s pleased with the fundraiser’s progress so far, and they’re already over halfway to their target.

“The momentum is really great,” she said. “(The money) goes into our general fund, but it really helps with our food support and helping people with low income.”

Robinson pointed out that there’s a five-year wait to get on the subsidized housing list. “In the last three weeks, we’ve helped people stay in their space by helping to pay their rent. I think that’s just going to get worse and worse.”  

Judy Brown is captain of the Morningside Walkers team, which will be taking part on Feb. 26 by following a route through their New Hamburg subdivision. She’s in a position to observe how important WFRC’s work is, and she’s hoping her eight-person team can provide meaningful support.

“I volunteer at the Wilmot Family Resource Centre, and I see firsthand all of the wonderful work that the staff does there,” she said, highlighting its programs for low-income residents, the food bank, income tax preparation, and support for victims of family violence.

It’s a source of pride for Brown that the Morningside Walkers were the second-highest fundraising team in the township last year, which was the first time they’d participated. She’s confident they’ll reach their 2022 target of $3,000.

Brown said Morningside actively supports the WFRC with its own events, too, including hosting a dance that raised money for its Christmas hamper program.

“This community’s very proud to be part of the Wilmot Family Resource Centre and helping them out financially.”