If you have been noticing what appears to be more homeless people in Steinbach these days, you may be right. 

However, Irene Kroeker with Steinbach Community Outreach says there is probably only a slight increase in the homeless population, it is just that they have become more visible.

Myra Gerbrandt, also with Steinbach Community Outreach says weather is also a factor. She notes during the warmer months, they are more likely to move around without being confined to a small, sheltered area.

"In the winter they probably have their shelter, and they don't want anybody else to take it," says Gerbrandt. "So, they probably kind of stay close by there."

Kroeker adds Steinbach's homeless population is definitely "homebound." She notes they know Steinbach and like Steinbach because this is where many of them were raised.

"This is where they know their community members, know where to go when they are in trouble," she explains. "So, they want to stay here, yes, definitely they are Steinbach people and want to stay in Steinbach."

Kroeker says if you want to help out a homeless person, bring them a cup of coffee, water or Gatorade or something small to eat, but do not offer them money. She encourages residents to also be friendly and notes that homeless people do take note when someone smiles at them or says hello.

"One gentleman, he counted the number of smiles he got that morning," recalls Kroeker.

"They don't want to feel like a dirty bum, that's not their preferred person to be," adds Gerbrandt. "If people can actually interact with them, like any other person. That's really valuable to them."

Kroeker notes a cup of coffee and a place to freshen up can make a big difference in the life of a homeless person. She shares the story of a homeless person who was sleeping under the roof at the church one day. One of the pastors brought him a cup of coffee and then when Steinbach Community Outreach opened for the day, Gerbrandt convinced him to have a shower and put on some clean clothes. 

"When he came back from that nice shower and cup of coffee, he was a different person," says Kroeker. "He held his back straight and he walked nicely, he just felt great."

If it is a donation you are wanting to make to Steinbach Community Outreach, the women suggest items like sweatshirts, sweatpants, jeans, cotton socks or backpacks.


With files from Adi Loewen