Corner Brook man funding men’s shelter mostly out of pocket

Gary Kean gkean@thewesternstar.com
Published on January 2, 2017

Guy Wells of Corner Brook has been paying the operational costs of Corner Brook’s only men’s shelter mostly out of his own pocket and needs help to keep it going.

©Star file photo

Guy Wells is not interested in being publicly thanked or praised.

What he wants is something far more practical: funding help to more firmly establish a men’s shelter in the Corner Brook area.

The Corner Brook man’s day job is assisting people with difficult cognitive challenges. After visiting clients on the psychiatric ward in the hospital in Corner Brook, Wells realized some of the men in the ward had absolutely no place to go when they were released from the hospital.

In his spare time, he set about trying to do what he could to provide a shelter for men in the city, since there currently is no such place. On Nov. 1, he opened the doors of Bridging the Gap, a four-bedroom house he has rented, and offered rooms to four men he knew were in need.

Since that time he has been paying from his own pocket most of the operational costs of running the home.

Wells has approached a number of corporations seeking donations to help keep the shelter going. He has also asked the federal and provincial levels of government for funding, but nothing has been figured out yet.

He was told he was too late to obtain any relevant federal funding for 2016, but was welcome to apply for 2017. The provincial government told him it is trying to do something like he is already doing, but hasn’t got anything in place yet.

He was told the province had money committed to its efforts, but he is not sure if any might be available for his undertaking.

All of the local social agencies that assist people in distress are aware of his efforts and have been telling him he is doing a wonderful thing.

“But I don’t need a pat on the back,” Wells said. “I need money. This needs funding or else it can’t continue.”

When Stella Michel, a Corner Brook resident who has organized the 12 Months-12 Miracles charity group, heard about what Wells was doing, she immediately began thinking of how her group could help. They initially planned to fill four Christmas stockings for the men, but soon had expanded their offering to include a mini-van chock full of food, clothing and other items.

“There was even enough to give Guy some extra for someone else he might help in the future to get started,” said Michel.

The need for this sort of full-service shelter is undeniable, said Wells. He can easily produce a list of more men who could use the kind of assistance he is offering the four men he is helping.

He is even looking into purchasing a larger house to expand the Bridging the Gap program.

It’s not just a roof over their heads. What Wells has created is a program for these men. He has helped them access education and has made improving themselves a focus while living at the home.

Wells is not really a religious person, but when asked why he has been compelled to do what he has done, he simply stated he feels people should be kind to everyone.

“This is my way of showing God that this is how people should be,” he said.