Kitchener-Waterloo

Woman provides food to show 'somebody cares' for homeless men sheltered in motels

Brenda Kumornik says it was hard to enjoy Christmas when she thought about people in Waterloo region who were out in the cold, so she started to put together bags with prepackaged foods to take to homeless men being housed in motels during the cold weather.

Bags including bread, peanut butter, cookies and fruit delivered weekly

Brenda Kumornik, holding the brown paper bag, has been handing out bagged lunches with prepackaged foods in downtown Kitchener for about three years. Now she's putting together bags of food for homeless men being housed in motels during the cold weather. (2Serve Outreach)

With shelters at capacity, some homeless men in Waterloo region are being housed in motels during the bitterly cold weather. Brenda Kumornik wants them to know someone cares.

The men can't cook in their motel rooms because there are no microwaves or cooking utensils. So she has been assembling bags of food for them that include things such as a loaf of bread, peanut butter, cold cuts, cheese, a box of cookies and some fruit. 

While the men have access to community food programs, she wants them to be able to have food when they're hungry.

"I remember Christmas, kind of just sitting there, and I just couldn't eat or enjoy myself because it was like, I'm sitting there eating a meal and these guys have nothing," Kumornik said.

"You can't fix their problems, but you can at least let them know somebody cares."

It's not a new idea for Kumornik, who started the outreach group 2Serve and often delivers between 80 to 100 bagged lunches to homeless in downtown Kitchener, using prepackaged food.

Kumornik has mobility issues which can make it tough to go out to do shopping and deliver the bags each week, but she said it's worth it when the men thank her for taking the time to think of them.

Bags full of food are piled in Brenda Kumornik's home before she took them to homeless men currently being housed in motels during the cold snap. (2Serve Outreach)

Access to meals

When a person stays at a shelter, all of their food is provided including meals and snacks, said Christine Stevanus, housing services director House of Friendship in Kitchener.

But they only have 51 beds at the shelter, and just enough room to serve that number of people at mealtime.

Those who are housed in motels are helped in other ways, she said.

We provide bus tickets for all the people who are not staying in our shelter to be able to access those food sources every single day.- Christine Stevanus, House of Friendship

"When people are overflowed to elsewhere, because we do make sure that they have somewhere warm to be, they are given all the information about where food is available within the community," she said.

"We provide bus tickets for all the people who are not staying in our shelter to be able to access those food sources every single day," she added. "There is, at all meals, food available in the community."

Stevanus said she has never met Kumornik and Kumornik does not work for or with House of Friendship, but the fact the woman is taking food to men is great.

"That comes from a kind heart," Stevanus said.

She added they always encourage people to help out those in need in the community. She adds, that includes making donations to the local shelters.

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