Some of you already know about my charity work with Out Of The Heat / Out Of The Cold Program in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. The Program provides a weekly meal for the homeless and a haven of compassion and sense of community for people who for a variety of reasons have found themselves without a regular meal and a roof over their heads.
It developed naturally. In my younger years, I was focused on success, and by success I mean monetary and what you might term corporate success. I wanted so badly to feel like I was on top of the business world. I was driven. That drive did take me to places that I wanted to go. And along the way, personal crises happened that showed me a different aspect of success.
I heard about the Out of The Cold Program. At first, I was just a bit intrigued with the Program. It sounded like a nice thing to do. It came at a good time. I was looking for something but wasn’t sure what. I thought about how the homeless were viewed. Many of us consider them as invisible. We pass by them on the streets, see them standing at traffic lights, notice them begging outside the supermarket and often we just look right through them and keep on going. I decided to stop and do something.
As I got more involved, I found myself being pulled in more and more by these people that I used to just pass by. Their stories were heartbreaking. They talked about job loss, divorce, fleeing abusive situations, suddenly finding themselves in desperate situations that they had never imagined and finding themselves hoping for and depending on the kindness of others – all those things that we sometimes close our ears to. At the same time, I was struck by the optimism that many of them still had, their enthusiasm for life and living, believing that it could and would get better, even though they had virtually nothing. Their generosity of spirit and sharing touched my heart. They talked about the God of Hope, the same God that helped me spiritually and rescued me from my plight.
The Program ran during the winter time only. But there were still more seasons that these people had to get through. It didn’t seem right that I would know about the situation, but not do anything about it. I convinced a host of volunteers to help keep the Program running year-round.
The response has been even more than I could have for. I have had some amazing support. I have been interviewed by CTV three times, thus far, which has helped enormously in generating awareness for the program and indeed bringing attention to the continuing plight of the homeless.
This situation definitely needs more attention and I am grateful to have the opportunity to write this article as an additional means of providing awareness of not only the situation, but also the humanness behind the faces of those that humanity has seemingly forgotten.
It’s great to see members of the financial world come together to help the less fortunate. It is an industry in which a lot of good people have more than enough means to give back and help make a difference in the lives of those who are struggling and wondering where their next meal is going to come from and if they will have a safe place to sleep. Anthony Durkacz of First Republic Capital has been a very generous sponsor providing funds which help enormously to top up the efforts I am able to provide.
I count myself lucky and privileged to be able to give to the homeless. In return, they have given me so much more. They have literally given me a whole mountain’s worth of gold with their appreciation and willingness to allow me into their lives. There is no price you can put on that.
Dr. Kal Kotecha