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Riders sought to help local homeless people find a refuge

Third annual Ride for Refuge will benefit Lighthouse; 'As a community, we can ... make a difference'
2018-09-04 ride for refuge.jpg
The Ride for Refuge committee has faith that the community will step up and support the Lighthouse. From left to right in back, Lesley Rice, Sandra Bushell, Linda Goodall, Catherine Clay, and front, Jen VanIersel, Lynn Thomas, and Trish Holloway. Missing are Mehreen Shahid and Brent Thomas. Contributed photo


The Lighthouse Soup Kitchen & Shelter hopes Orillia and area residents will help ride out homelessness by participating in or supporting the third annual Ride (or walk) for Refuge on Saturday, Sept. 29.

This ride helps raise crucial funds for clients at the Lighthouse, but it’s also a way for gaining perspective, said Julia Achilles.

The Orillia resident used the opportunity last year to teach her kids how great it is to support the community partner for their church.

“We made some great family memories doing the ride together and doing practice bike rides together,” said Achilles, who was able to raise $250 with her team.

“It also started some great conversations with (the kids) about being thankful for what we have and doing things for others even when we don't feel like it,” she added.

It’s also a chance for the shelter staff to re-adjust their focus, said Lynn Thomas, development coordinator, Building Hope Campaign.

“I realize we can often get focused on the provisional needs of our organization and the details of events,” she said. “What I remind myself daily to plan an event like Ride for Refuge is there are people, community members in Orillia, who need our help, who rely on the services we provide and who tell us regularly that the Lighthouse gives them hope. We ride, walk, volunteer, plan, and fundraise for them.”

Linda Goodall, executive director of the Lighthouse, agreed.

“We are riding and walking for those that are experiencing homelessness right here in our community,” she said, talking about the 5k walk, or 10k, 25k, or 50k ride, which collects funds for the Lighthouse, as well as Building Hope. Last year, about 100 participants at the event brought in $15,000, and this year, the organizing committee hopes to bring in at least $25,000.

“As a community, we can come together to make a difference,” said Goodall, encouraging families, organizations, businesses, and individuals to create a team. Residents can also make a difference by joining on of the ride volunteer teams or by donating to another team, she explained.

“There's something for everyone,” said Goodall. “The need is great. And, as a community, we can make a difference.”

Teams or individuals can register online at

For more information, please contact Thomas at or Goodall at

The Lighthouse Soup Kitchen and Shelter is a not-for-profit organization located on 48 Peter St. S. The shelter serves 14 men a night providing them emergency shelter services. The kitchen serves up to 25,000 meals a year to individuals and families in need.