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The Importance of Sleep Out

Our latest Under One Roof podcast is now live, and in this edition CHV talks to Grant Damery from RBC about the importance of Sleep Out: Executive Edition (SO:EE).

Grant is the Managing Director for the Enterprise Private Clients at RBC and has been supporting CHV since 2016. Grant joined SO:EE in 2018, making this year Grant’s sixth Sleep Out. Team RBC has raised over $397,000 in the last five years, through their involvement in the SO:EE, and the RBC Foundation has been supporting Covenant House since 1999!

Grant said, “At RBC, creating a positive social impact is integral to how we do business. RBC Foundation is a key part of our purpose-driven approach to helping clients thrive and communities prosper.”

The 2023 Homeless Count in Greater Vancouver recently came out and presented an alarming statistic that states that there’s been a 32% increase in the numbers of people experiencing homelessness since 2020.

Grant says that the reason that the RBC Foundation supports CHV is because, “… as an organization, it’s not only the great work that you do, the cause that you’re involved with, all the services and the people that are supporting the youth, but more importantly, it’s the outcomes that you guys develop. And that really sticks with us.”

When asked about why SO:EE is so important, Grant said, “..from my personal view, it’s actually about creating awareness more than anything else.” He acknowledges that the funds raised are important to support the programs and services that CHV provides, but ultimately, he said, “I always come back to the awareness issue; using those networks, elevating the awareness of this issue, and actually bringing the human element to it.”

Grant has been asked why he cares about those struggling out there, and he says to them directly, “You know what I see? I see a daughter, I see a son, I see a brother, I see a sister, I see a person. And I think the more that we can bring the human element in, creating awareness around that, the better off that everybody’s going to be.”

Grant was asked to share his experience of sleeping out in an alley. “… it’s a tough night. It’s not easy. I mean, get your piece of cardboard, you get your sleeping bag. I typically use my shoes as the pillow. You get up, you’re sore, you’re cold, … I do it for one night. So, think about trying to repeat that over and over again, and then trying to function daily! And it’s not even comparable to what our youth are experiencing. Covenant House does a very good job and making sure that we’re all safe.”

Grant said that the best part of the experience is meeting youth and hearing their stories “… because they’re just amazingly courageous people that are being vulnerable and sharing their journeys with us. But again, as I touched on before, it’s that human element, when you see all of the love and the warmth and it creates this overwhelming emotion.”

Grant mentions that he’s talked to some supporters of Sleep Out who need to take a break, but he says, “I personally, at this stage, can’t even consider giving up just because of the impact it makes.”

Grant said that RBC has 86,000 employees, globally, who spend their time and talents volunteering in their communities. Grant said that leading by example is part of the RBC culture. By taking initiative, Grant said that other banks and organizations will often get on board with what their doing, which amplifies the impact on the community.

Having seen CHV’s new building, Grant had many amazing things to say about it, but sums up his thoughts about it by saying, “Part of what makes it amazing, though, it’s not just the wonderful facilities that are here, but again it comes back to the staff and like, as I said, the love. And the welcomeness. At the end of the day, …  the one thing that really stuck with me is that it was inviting, it’s warm, it’s safe.”

Homelessness is a complex issue that affects people, families, communities, and society. He believes that everyone can play a part in raising awareness. “ … since I’ve got involved with Covenant House, what I find encouraging is that the municipal government has a bigger voice and, and awareness; the provincial government has a bigger voice in awareness as well as the business community.”

“I think if we continue to build awareness and we continue to make our voice louder, in the right way, I think we’ll continue to draw more resources and, and more people into it to support it. And that’s eventually how we’re going to solve [homelessness], over time.”

Make sure to check out the whole episode, “Sleep Out Executive Edition 2023 with Grant Damery @ RBC” to hear more about Grant’s thoughts on the housing crisis and its impact on homelessness, how RBC supports people and community, and about Grant’s Sleep Out experiences.

SO:EE is happening on November 16th! If you’d like to help raise critical funds for the youth we serve, you can donate directly to  Grant Damery, or you can donate to SO:EE. You can also advocate and help spread awareness on all your social channels.

CHV would like to thank Grant, RBC, and the RBC Foundation for their continued support of vulnerable and at-risk youth in BC.