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

Just Posted

Semiahmoo Rock alum to represent Canada at World Junior Lacrosse Championship

Jacob Dunbar plays for Port Coquitlam Saints of BCJALL

Surrey celebrates multiculturalism with annual Fusion Festival

The two-day festival returns to Holland Park

RCMP investigate two shootings in Surrey

Incidents happened in Whalley, Newton

Surrey Board of Trade fears SkyTrain expansion will impede other transit needs

‘We need transit improvements in all of Surrey,’ Anita Huberman says

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

UPDATE: One dead after house fire in rural Maple Ridge

Dewdney Trunk Road closed, traffic being re-routed

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

Highway 1 closed near Revelstoke

No estimated time for opening

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

Most Read