Fellowship Centre visitor gets warmed up earlier today.Community groups are opening their doors, in an effort to handle an overflow of homeless people in Kenora, during the recent cold snap.

Staff and volunteers estimate there are 40 to 60 people using warming centres and shelters in the city, during the cold snap.

The forecast has the cold snap extending into the weekend, with wind chills overnight dropping below -40.

"It's been really cold the last couple of days to sleep outside," agreed a visitor to the Fellowship Centre on Water Street, as he warmed up with a cup of coffee earlier today.

Yvonne Bearbull is the executive director for the Kenora Fellowship Centre on Water Street, where they've expanded their daytime programs to help those in need overnight. 

They're struggling between those trying to escape the cold and the COVID-19 restrictions for public health. Bearbull says they're helping more than 15 people a night, as well as feed 40 to 50 people for a meal, as they provide two meals a day. 

Still, she wanted to do more.

"We need to do better. You hear of all these other cities that are mobilizing, as we have. There's options for things we can do to come together," Bearbull said earlier today.

There are still those with mental health issues or severe addictions, who aren't able to find warmth in a warming centre or shelter. For the time being, they're being placed in local hotels, Bearbull said.

Staff at the Word Hub, Presbyterian Church, First Baptist and shelter are also expanding their services to help during the cold snap.

Sean Teahan is among the volunteers at the Word Hub on Kenora's east highway, who are looking after overflow from shelters and warming centres in the city.

"I sobered up about January 20, 2020. I'm just at a place in my life where I give back to my community. There are a lot of places out in the community that are helping," he said, as he helped out the lunch-hour crowd.

Raena Ducharme has been operating the Word Hub warming centre without a budget or income, and she's expanded to a 24-hour operation, in an effort to help those in need. Ducharme said she was happy to get a call from the district services board offering assistance.

"I was very thankful this morning. It was a good way to wake up," she said with a grin.

The Kenora District Services Board has been working with a number of community partners under the All Nations Health Partners umbrella, in an effort to help ease long-standing social issues.

If you can, those on the frontline are asking for help with:

  • with COVID screening,
  • cooking,
  • cleaning and
  • visiting with patrons at the centres.
  • dropping off food,
  • clothing and
  • winter gear.
  • staff for the expanded hours.
  • Help maintaining an outdoor fire at the Fellowship Centre 

For more information:

City to move community policing office to Thistle Pavillon

Kenora resident braves the cold to bring awareness to mental health

Coldest Night of the Year - Make a donation