B.C. A&W helps keep homeless people warm

Restaurant offers daytime warmth, coffee for people who have no place else to go

Jestony Pagdunzolan says it’s the least the restaurant can do.

As manager of the Salmon Arm A&W, he’s referring to the way the restaurant treats homeless people, treatment that has been noticed by community members.

When homeless folks come in and have a coffee at A&W, they’re welcome to stay as long as they like in order to stay warm.

“It’s the least we can do to help those guys,” Pagdunzolan says. “When it’s extremely cold you’ve seen them sitting out there. I’ve heard some stories they won’t allow them inside restaurants.”

He says he’s never been homeless, but he knows what it’s like to struggle. He came to B.C. from the Philippines in 2012.

“In the Philippines, my two-month paycheque here was my one-year pay. I know how hard life can be.”

Read more: Salmon Arm supports a good cause during Coldest Night of the Year

Most of the homeless folks who come to the restaurant want to pay for their own coffee, and then get the free refills offered after that.

“They don’t want to be treated like the homeless one, they want to be a regular customer.”

Pagdunzolan explains that he’s told them that as long as there are no issues that bother other customers – such as being loud – they’re welcome to stay as long as they want. He says they’ve been good, wanting to return the favour.

Read more: Homeless tenters must move for four-laning preparation

There was an incident involving someone coming in from outside and starting an altercation – he thinks maybe a drug dealer. He called police to get rid of him.

“Those homeless guys, I realize it’s not their choice that they’re homeless,” he says, noting that such a fate can happen to anyone.

He’s noticed that the homeless folks who come in help each other.

He and his staff were moved when they received a big Christmas card thanking them for their kindness, signed by The Homeless Family.

“Simple things like that, make your job better.”

Read more: Strangers chip in to provide support for homeless in Shuswap

The kindness has inspired other customers at A&W. A selection of toques were brought in that the restaurant could distribute. Someone saw one of the homeless people drawing, so the customer brought in colouring materials to donate.

Pagdunzolan said he’s spoken to staff about making sure the homeless customers are treated like anyone else, that their perspective is considered.

“Would there be someone to help us (if we were in that situation)?” he asks. “It’s good to help others.”


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mental Health: Fractured services leave community to fill gaps

Greater Victoria service providers working together to help youth

Bag containing meat, sewing needles found by dog owner in Cordova Bay

Saanich police don’t believe it’s a trend

UVic creates emergency bursary for students facing hardships due to COVID-19

Students can apply by emailing the financial aid office

Colwood Spring Clean-Up postponed, branch drop-off continues

Strict measures in place for branch drop-off

Peninsula organizations fund food bank ahead of ‘looming crisis’

Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank receives more than $5,000 from local organizations

‘Hold our line’: 29 new cases of COVID-19 announced in B.C.

Saturday’s number of new cases marks the lowest in weeks.

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

Nanaimo’s Harmac mill works to fill doubled pulp order for medical masks and gowns

Mill’s president says extra cleaning in place and workers are social distancing

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

POLL: Will you be able to make your rent or mortgage payment this month?

With the COVID-19 delivering a devastating blow to the global economy, and… Continue reading

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Most Read