Kindness metres offer support to New Life Community during time of need

By Chad Klassen
December 18, 2017 - 2:38pm Updated: December 18, 2017 - 5:38pm

KAMLOOPS — Kindness metres have been around Kamloops since 1998, a way to offload some change to help support New Life Community. 

"I think it's a good idea for the New Life Mission because it will be giving them money for supplying the food," said Kamloops resident Sandy Shimoyama.

Shimoyama, who used to volunteer at New Life, didn't know the kindness metres existed, like many other residents. 

"There's four around town. The first one is located at the 200 block of Victoria, 300 block there's metres on either end of the block, and then the 400 block, it's located mid-block on Victoria Street," said city bylaw officer Daryll Webster.

Bylaw said between $300 and $400 are collected from the metres each year. The hope is to reduce panhandling, a measure the City of Vernon introduced this summer. The City of Kamloops feels panhandling downtown has improved recently.

"Right now it's limited, which is good," said Webster. "It depends on the time of year, but overall I think there has been an improvement."

As for New Life Community, the beneficiaries of the kindness metres, any kind of funding helps in feeding and caring for the homeless population, even if it's just a couple hundred dollars. 

"We're open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day, seven days a week," said New Life executive director Stan Dueck. "If they are really needing a meal or something to eat, just send them down to New Life Community. We've got a hot lunch going every single day. Pizza every Monday thanks to Rocky at Dominos."

Dueck noted the kindness metres are a better alternative to giving change to the homeless. 

"So much of the panhandling is not about a meal or food," he said. "It really would be a lot better to be used where it is really needed the most."

Shimoyama feels torn between giving out change on the streets or not. 

"I actually go by my feelings when I see a homeless person asking for money," she said. "Sometimes, even though I have the money, I'll say 'no' because I just have a feeling. Other times I feel very good about giving them some money."  

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