It was his involvement in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) that led S. Guenther to an idea that helps those in need with some basic comforts and necessities.
Guenther, who simply uses his first initial, has been involved with the medieval reenactment society for years. However, this commitment is no mere hobby. A code of chivalry that emphasizes doing good deeds for those less fortunate is part of its culture, or “noblesse oblige,” as Guenther says of the concept.
For the SCA events, Guenther rigged up a portable shower unit, with a couple of stalls and a changing area, and describes it as a fun do-it-yourself project.
“It has its own trailer,” he says. “It’s also available for emergency response.”
A few years ago, he decided he could use the equipment to provide some opportunities for showers to people in need not only for hygiene but as a way to help them regain some dignity.
“I can’t solve their problems, but I can help them stay clean,” he says. “What price can you put on a person’s dignity? Really, it’s the right thing to do.”
He set up a formal group as Wiseland Humanitarian Association. The pandemic has meant changing courses, switching from the shower to providing shower tickets. He pops by the soup kitchen in downtown Courtenay to hand out necessary supplies like toilet paper and bottled water to people showing up for a meal. He’s trying to work in conjunction with other organizations helping out.
“We didn’t want to duplicate other services,” he says. “We are regularly serving just under 200 people.”
During a recent lunchtime visit, one man comes by to say hello and receive a roll of toilet paper. “He does do a good job,” the man says of Guenther.
Another thing Guenther provides is laundry tickets for people to head to The Laundry on Cliffe Avenue to get their clothes cleaned.
His efforts require help and generosity from others in the community, and just recently he was able to get federal charity status for Wiseland Humanitarian Association, which means he can now provide tax receipts.
He wants to grow the organization to accomplish more things for people without losing its local focus. Already, he is set up with help for his bookkeeping. Now, he is hoping to find some people who can assist with specific aspects for the Wiseland Humanitarian Association, such as social media and information technology.
“I very, very much need some computer savvy volunteers,” he says.
For more information, Guenther can be reached at http://www.wiseland-humanitarian-association.ca/, by calling 250-334-2074 or emailing Wiseland.email@example.com.