Charest, Coehlo receive OPP recognition for homelessness awareness campaign, fundraiser

·2 min read

LISTOWEL – In recognition of their homelessness awareness campaign and fundraiser last February, It Takes A Village Executive Director Andrea Charest and OPP Sergeant Manny Coehlo received a regional commander’s letter on Dec. 15.

As a fundraising effort, the two of them spent a cold night sleeping outside in front of the Listowel branch of the North Perth Public Library. The goal for the fundraiser was $2,400.

They smashed that target, bringing in over $31,500.

When OPP Acting Inspector Wendy Burrow presented the letter, Charest spoke about how the experience affected her.

“One of the things I was most struck by was… we do our jobs but when we drop our armour we’re just human,” she said. “And Manny, you know people would come and talk with us and share their stories about family members who struggled with lots of different things, and Manny wasn’t an OPP officer in those moments. He was just a person and he was a person who was really honest about what he navigated in terms of… PTSD. He dropped his armour and he made it safe for people to recognize that under all this you folks are just like us.

“I think that’s an important message for him to have gotten out there that day.”

Burrow agreed.

“That’s the thing that we need to continue to do, show the human side of policing and how we all have our struggles, our challenges and our issues,” she said. “It’s one of the things we keep talking about when I meet with our officers about doing just that.”

Charest said she was proud, amazed and grateful to receive the letter.

“The work under it that we all do together – that is so impactful,” she said. “Thank you.”

Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner

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