By: Jane Stevenson
Wed., June 15, 2022
There’s no time like the present for Project Water, a program by the charity Engage and Change.
With temperatures expected to feel close to 43 C with humidity on Thursday in the GTA, Project Water founder Jody Steinhauer was busy helping distribute about 700,000 water bottles from the parking lot of her 34-year-old discount wholesale business, Bargains Group, with the precious cargo going to the homeless in more than 200 locations.
“How sad is that, that the agencies that were serving don’t have access to drinking water, drinking fountains,” said Steinhauer. “Homelessness is not a downtown Toronto problem — it’s spread everywhere.”
Steinhauer, who started Project Water 24 years ago, saw the need to make a difference and has since rounded up such corporate sponsors as BlueTriton Brands, Fortigo Freight Services, Toronto Police Services, CIBC, Scotiabank and Perimeter Development Group with about 100 volunteers from those companies on hand to help out Wednesday.
“Sometimes just giving somebody who’s homeless a bottle of water allows that conversation to get them into care and hopefully help,” Steinhauer told the Sun following the news conference. “And we don’t have enough water. As much as we got, we always need help. It’s a sad situation. When you think about Toronto and how valuable this is, it’s just wrong. We should have housing so people have taps.”
Glenn Vangulik, the divisional secretary for public relations for the Salvation Army, called the lack of water for the homeless “a life and death situation. We are seeing individuals who are struggling with their needs and support every day … and water goes a very, very long way, especially with a heat alert going into the weekend. It just makes it possible to save lives.”
Steinhauer added that someone just broke into Engage and Change’s temporary warehouse and stole donated goods like sleeping bags for ti’s Project Winter Survival program that happens in mid-January.
“The Bargains Group van is going back and forth, we’re getting everything we can, as we speak out of that warehouse,” she said. “Somebody came in and stole supplies for the homeless. How bad is that? We need help.”