WarmWorkers Laurier reaches out to homeless in Waterloo Region

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Graphic by Alan Li

On March 29, WarmWorkers Laurier spent the day distributing supplies and necessities to individuals experiencing homelessness in the Waterloo Region.

WarmWorkers is a non-profit organization and registered charity that was founded three years ago. Since its founding, the organization has expanded across Ontario.

“WarmWorkers is an initiative focused on conditioning those experiencing homelessness from a cycle of dependency to a self-sufficient independent lifestyle,” Harleen Brar, co-president of WarmWorkers Laurier, said.

“The Laurier chapter supports the initiative of the parent organization by focusing on the Kitchener-Waterloo Region.”

The organization ultimately strives towards accomplishing this conditioning through two stages.

“The first phase is kind of going out into the community doing outreach events, connecting with individuals in the community and providing them with things like food and essential goods,” Brar said.

“When we do these outreach events we talk to these individuals to see where they’re at with their life and to see if they want to get back into the workforce or what support they need to do so.”

The second phase involves connecting individuals who feel ready to return to the workforce with WarmWorker’s parent organization, which provides housing support, employment workshops, resume building skills and more.

The recent outreach event, which was in collaboration with WarmWorkers Waterloo, the University of Waterloo chapter, took place outside Kitchener City Hall.

The event was unlike the structure of some of WarmWorkers Laurier’s previous outreach events.

For example, in the past, the group would create care packages with different supplies which they would hand out to individuals in the Kitchener community.

“This year, instead of giving items or making care packages and choosing the items that we put in there to put in there, we wanted them to choose. We got them to come to us,” Brar said.

Prior to the event, WarmWorkers Laurier collected goods and items from the Laurier community, such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, other hygiene products, female hygiene products and more.

In addition, the club had pizza, coffee and other snacks to hand out to individuals who approached their table.

“It’s about how we can make the smallest impact in our own communities which was the big message that we wanted to send to our volunteers as well as those in the community.”

The main purpose of the outreach event, however, was not only to provide supplies. The club also worked to connect with those experiencing homelessness.

“It’s a very eye-opening experience for volunteers as well as for our executive teams. Yes, we fundraise on campus and yes, we talk about these issues, we wanted to spread the message that it’s more than that,” Brar said.

“Having to have that direct connection and contact with those that are experiencing homelessness, they will be able to see how they can help … it’s not just about the items that we give out. It’s about the conversations that we have.”

In fact, Brar noted many individuals facing homelessness didn’t take any supplies — but reaped the benefits of making connections with volunteers and having those conversations.

“Just having conversations would make their day and they tell us [that],” Brar said.

“It’s about how we can make the smallest impact in our own communities which was the big message that we wanted to send to our volunteers as well as those in the community.”

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