Little about sleeping outside in late winter on a mattress of cardboard and concrete sounds appealing.
And Caleb Regier (BA ’14) won’t tell you that it is. Still, the Brock graduate has been calling it a day on a makeshift bed in front of Taro Hall for the past several nights as part of 5 Days for the Homeless. This also marks Regier’s fifth year participating in the annual national campaign that draws attention to homelessness issues and raises money by having participants live without means for nearly a week.
He fully expects to be pushed out of his comfort zone living without a proper roof over his head for five days.
“It definitely wears on you,” says Regier, who graduated last June with a degree in Human Geography. “The first night is fun but it starts to wear on you. After the second and third night on the hard ground – you have cardboard but your body’s not used to it. It’s used to a soft bed.”
His body is also used to set meal times. But this week, he and the nearly 20 students taking part in the event had to settle for eating only when given food.
Though he stresses that participants truly don’t know what it’s like to be without, Regier isn’t unfamiliar with the plight of those dealing with housing issues. Since graduating, he has worked as a housing support worker at Start Me Up Niagara. Finding adequate affordable housing is a problem in St. Catharines, he says.
“I know people who spend 100 per cent of their income on housing every month and it’s wrong,” Regier says.
Making others aware of such issues is the reason why he continues to bring his sleeping bag to campus every March and take up residence outside Taro Hall. In addition to giving spare change or non-perishable food items, all of which will go to Community Care of St. Catharines and Thorold’s Housing Help, Regier hopes donors will give a few minutes of their time, too.
“Even stopping to chat, talking to us (helps),” he says. “They can see us, see our signs, but once they leave, the thought leaves their mind. But when they stay and talk, it sticks with them… so the next time they see someone who’s homeless, they’ll have compassion.”