Huron’s Leader with Heart in Residence Helps Homeless Londoners Feel Valued
When the pandemic started to wreak havoc on London’s homeless population, compromising their access to community services, resources and spare change, Stefan Nichol decided he couldn’t just walk by anymore. He reflects on this moment of realization, sharing, “I found myself faced with the parable of everybody, anybody and nobody: everybody is sure somebody will take care of the problem at hand. Anybody could manage it, but nobody does.”
Stefan decided he would be the somebody that would, and he started doing what he could. Back in May, what that looked like was a backpack with cold water in it because, “I already had my Western bag, and I knew I could afford cold water. After a while, I thought I was doing great because I was able to get a bigger bag and add in snacks.”
Luckily, however, Stefan’s momentum grew far beyond increasing the size of his knapsack. Little by little, community organizations, churches and businesses became aware of Stefan’s efforts to restore dignity to London’s homeless population, and donations began to roll in. From $40,000 worth of Columbia winter wear through to 48 boxes of CLIF bars and financial gifts to bridge the gaps between need and availability, the value of Stefan’s visits to London’s most vulnerable grew beyond anything he ever could have imagined.
Leading with Heart means ensuring others feel listened to and heard
For the people Stefan helps, the real gifts he gives are not things they can eat, drink or wear: they are the ways he makes them feel. While it’s easy for Stefan to give away two cases water in a single block, it’s his company that seems to make the most meaningful difference to the Londoners who are “essentially welcoming me into what they consider their living room.”
From seeing previously homeless individuals secure employment and housing through to kind comments about how Stefan is reminding people what it feels like to be human again, Leading with Heart in London certainly has its success stories. “I’ve realized they don’t feel forgotten. They know people see them every day, and they are just continually discarded. Taking time to be with them reminds them they’re wanted.”
“People who have a sense of pride have the motivation to do more and be more. Instead of not being able to see beyond their current circumstances, they consider they can reach for more. Whether its disenfranchised youth or the young people at our school looking to volunteer, I want everyone to be part of something good before they leave this world.”
In honour and celebration of Stefan’s selfless dedication to bringing hope and respite to those who need it most, Huron designed the position of Leader with Heart in Residence. More than just increasing the Master of Divinity graduate’s financial freedom, this official acknowledgement of the university will serve to bring greater awareness to his efforts and enhance the support he is receiving through collaborations with our students, faculty and staff.
“All I was hoping for from Huron was a donation. It’s become so much more than that. I certainly was not expecting a job offer, but what I am doing really seems to have connected with the school’s mission. If our community can help me raise further awareness, build corporate connections and foster donations, together, we can make a really big difference in this city.”
Students, faculty and staff who are interested in supporting Stefan in his new role as our Leader with Heart in Residence and in his journey to empowering London’s homeless population, through small acts of kindness, are encouraged to contact our Leader with Heart in Residence, Stefan Nichol, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to add a bit of heart into your holiday spirit?
Whether you are looking to pass on gently used items or you feel inclined to purchase this life-saving necessities, in the spirit of generosity and compassion, Stefan looks forward to connecting our most vulnerable, those treasures who have been lost in dark places, with the safety and comfort every human being deserves. Thank you sincerely, in advance, for your consideration of this humble request. We wish you all a wonderful holiday season full of all the things that make your spirit bright.
Help Londoners stay warm this winter
Please donate any of the following items:
Used (or new) blankets, coats, hats, mitts, boots, thermal underwear, hand warmers or candles. Gift certificates and cash donations can also be accepted at the Info Desk. Receipts will be provided. Please just indicate these are for Stefan’s campaign.
Two drop-off locations available:
- Huron at Western, 1349 Western Road
Sign in at the Info Desk – between 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Classroom W6 is set up to receive donations.
- Impact Church, 220 Adelaide St. N. Please call to arrange a time to drop-off: 519-438-7036.
Donations will be accepted until Dec. 18th.