The Cost of Kindness: Changing the Stigma of Homelessness

Kim and David celebrating reaching their GoFundMe goal © Image Courtesy of Andrew Embury


By Raye Mocioiu

“I feel that most people view homelessness as the kind of problem where, if they don’t acknowledge it, it doesn’t exist,” says Kim Cormier.

“For example, if you don’t make eye contact with the man sitting outside of the grocery store with a sign that says ‘Looking for money or food,’ then he won’t talk to you. In reality, he is just trying to feed himself.”

Often, prejudiced assumptions are made about people experiencing homelessness—assumptions that come from a place of fear. Kim has long held that it costs nothing to be kind and costs little to help someone out. That message, taught by her father, led her to change the life of a man she now considers family.

A Chance Encounter

Kim met David McDonald by chance, but their encounter blossomed into a strong friendship.

David, who once owned a gas station in Kingston, has been intermittently homeless since 2016. Around the same time that he lost his gas station in 2010, his long-term relationship ended. He recalls feeling like he had lost everything.

The next decade was tumultuous for David. When his daughter moved out of their Toronto apartment, David took a Greyhound bus to Vancouver, where he experienced homelessness for the first time. Less than a year later, afraid he would die in B.C., David walked and cycled more than 3,000 kilometres back to Ontario.

David has since spent time living in parks and with strangers in rental apartments—which he shares were miserable experiences, filled with theft and violent threats.

“It’s a hard life. There is theft among the homeless,” David says. “You have to always watch your back, your belongings, and who you trust.”

Earlier this summer, he passed Kim’s Kingston home on his e-scooter while she worked on her laptop outside. He blew a tire and asked Kim if she would mind watching his belongings while he went to Canadian Tire for a new inner tube.

When he returned from the store, Kim invited him to stay for dinner with her and her partner. From then on, their friendship quickly grew.

“When you are homeless, people look at you more like a criminal and that you have ‘done something’ to be in this situation,” shares David. “Kim proved that some people see past that, are curious to know your story—and I’ve been told I tell great stories. She also showed me that there are second chances.”

Small Home, Big Impact

The solution to homelessness has been called “deceptively simple.” It comes down to providing stable housing for people experiencing homelessness.

In September, Kim and Andrew invited David to move into their backyard, in a three-season tent with a queen-sized mattress, a sofa, a fridge and carpeting. The arrangement led Kim to find an even better idea.

“I found out about these beautiful micro homes from a steering committee called “Our Liveable Solutions” and their main contact Chrystal Wilson,” Kim shares. “I reached out to them regarding their design of the homes and was able to learn more.”

Andrew agreed that hosting a micro home in their backyard would be a legal solution that would help David and encouraged Kim to make a plan.

“I didn’t have much faith in asking social media for help, but I hoped that David’s story would catch the right people’s attention. In 11 days, we hit our GoFundMe goal of $18,000 and together, we were able to purchase David’s Micro Home.

“All it took was an action plan and believing that people cared enough about David’s story to share.”

Global Heroes Logo Grey

Get your free copy of Global Heroes, jam-packed with positive news, straight in your inbox.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Global Heroes Podcast


Subscribe to our Newsletter and Access all issues of Global Heroes News straight in your inbox. 100% free, no purchase necessary, for life. Uplifting stories, highlighting the inspirational efforts of everyday people, celebrities, and organizations, who are diligently working together towards practical solutions to global problems.