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Over 140 people woke up alone, cold and grateful this morning after participating in the Longest Night.

PEEL REGION (February 18, 2017) –

In empty parking lots and quiet streets across Peel this morning, over 140 people woke up in their frozen cars feeling relieved that the night was over. They participated in United Way of Peel Region’s 3rd Annual Longest Night event to raise awareness and much needed funds for United Way’s homelessness strategy. With the temperatures hovering around the freezing mark for most of the week participants began preparing for this immersive experience last night.

Anita Stellinga, Interim President and CEO, United Way of Peel Region joined City of Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey, Councillor Martin Medeiros, Chief Jennifer Evans, Member of Parliament, Brampton North, Ruby Sahota, Member of Parliament, Brampton South, Sonia Sidhu and Member of Parliament Brampton West, Kamal Khera in Garden Square in Brampton.

“This is my third time participating in this event and I can tell you it doesn’t get easier. The isolation, the fear, the cold it all adds up and truly makes it feel like the longest night in my life. To think we have people in our communities who experience this everyday motivates me to continue working with our partners like the Region of Peel to address this issue.” said Anita Stellinga, Interim President and CEO, United Way of Peel Region.

“Spending a night in your car is difficult and cold, but it’s a reality for many in our community. By taking part in United Way’s Longest Night challenge, I want to highlight this issue and help raise funds for those who have to choose between food and shelter.” said Mayor Linda Jeffrey, City of Brampton.

Social media was filled with stories of isolation, fear, disbelief and personal reflection as participants shared their experiences using #LongestNightPeel. The conversation carried many themes, including the recognition that participants had an option at any moment to go inside their homes. The event raised over $100,000. These funds will support United Way’s homelessness strategy.

A few high profile individuals in our community participated in the event and lead the fundraising initiative. Each of the following individuals committed to being Longest Night Champions

  • Mayor Linda Jeffrey, City of Brampton
  • Jeffrey Becker, Manager, Investment and Retirement Planning, RBC
  • Brad Butt, Director of Government Relations, Mississauga Board of Trade
  • Councillor Johanna Downey, Ward 2, Town of Caledon
  • Mayor Allan Thompson, Town of Caledon
  • Tom Dyck, Executive Vice President, TD Bank Financial Group (Retired)
  • Chief Jennifer Evans, Peel Regional Police
  • Chuck Hounsell, Senior Vice President of Payment, TD Bank
  • Farzana Jalal (Taiman)
  • Gary Kent, Commissioner of Corporate Services and CFO, City of Mississauga
  • Bruce McCuaig, President and Chief Executive Officer, Metrolinx
  • Councillor Martin Medeiros, Councillor, Wards 3 and 4, City of Brampton
  • Loretta Phinney, Sales Representative, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Loretta Phinney, Brokerage
  • Harry Schlange, Chief Administrative Officer, City of Brampton
  • Kris Smith, Executive Vice President, Refining and Marketing, Suncor Energy
  • Samra Zafar, Commercial Account Manager, RBC Royal Bank

United Way would like to thank the following supporters for participating:

  • Sonia Sidhu, Member of Parliament, Brampton South
  • Ruby Sahota, Member of Parliament, Brampton North
  • Kamal Khera, Member of Parliament, Brampton West
  • Michelle Bilek, Member, Peel Alliance to End Homelessness
  • Region of Peel Staff & Executive Leadership Team

About United Way of Peel Region

Established in 1967, United Way of Peel Region inspires people from all walks of life to come together to raise funds, volunteer and motivate policy and attitude changes that lead to the improvement of people’s quality of life in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga. United Way’s community investment focus is to help individuals and families move from a life of poverty to one full of possibilities, to ensure all children have the opportunity to be all they can be, and to build strong communities. For more information on United Way’s work in the community visit: www.unitedwaypeel.org.

Media contacts:

Roy Saad | Director, Stakeholder Engagement and Public Affairs
416-356-6344 (mobile) | rsaad@unitedwaypeel.org | @unitedwaypeel