Sandy Merriman House Celebrates 20th Anniversary


December 16, 2015 – Cool Aid’s Sandy Merriman House emergency shelter for women has been serving the most vulnerable women in our community for 20 years. The shelter opened its doors for the first time on December 19, 1995. It had 15 beds for women in need and the length of stay for each resident was seven days.

Supporters and the public are welcome to join us this Monday, December 21, from 1 to 4 pm, to acknowledge the past, celebrate the present, and cheer for the future of Sandy Merriman House, 809 Burdette Avenue, across from the courthouse. Activities:

1:15 pm Cakes and speeches
1:30, 2:30 & 3:30 pm Tours

Sandy Merriman House was built by women for women and continues to be operated by women. Its construction was documented in a Knowledge Network movie available on Cool Aid’s YouTube channel. The construction provided employment for disadvantaged women who were interested in being trained in construction skills. The shelter and drop in space is named after one of the trainees involved in the project: Sandy Merriman died of an accidental drug overdose; in honour of her memory the building now bears her name.

Today, Sandy Merriman House has 25 beds and its daytime drop-in program serves over 800 hot, nutritious meals each month. The 24/7 shelter serves self-identified women of all cultural backgrounds, sexual orientation and religious beliefs, 19 years and older. Many are managing difficult circumstances including mental health, addictions, poverty, homelessness, hunger, sex trade work, abuse and isolation.

“Sandy Merriman House’s history is one of vision, strength, heart and courage,” said shelter coordinator Christine O’Brien. “Twenty years have passed but the message remains the same: Cool Aid is here to provide the support and services that people need and deserve.”

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Christine O’Brien, 250-480-1408 or

The Victoria Cool Aid Society builds homes, lives and community. We create opportunities for people who are homeless or living in poverty. We make a difference through housing, health care, support and emergency shelters. Founded in 1968, Cool Aid helps over 9,000 people in the Capital Region every year, at 14 locations in Langford, Victoria and Saanich. The Society’s major new campaign is “Help End Homelessness”, to build an additional 360 apartments for people in the community who have no home. #buildhomes