A first for Interval House of Hamilton

News Feb 12, 2020 by Mark Newman Hamilton Mountain News

It was a very special day at Interval House of Hamilton.

For the first time in the history of the shelter, men were invited into the kitchen on Feb. 12 to make dinner for the 29 women and children who are staying there.

The men were Matt Afinec, president and chief operating officer of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and Hamilton Bulldogs president and general manager Steve Staios.

They were assisted by former MentorAction chair Val Sargeant, and the group was guided by chef Ken LeFebour from Nellie James Gourmet Food to Go in Dundas. The menu featured Thai coconut curried chicken and a vegetarian alternative, both served with basmati rice seasoned with dill.

The Tiger-Cats and Bulldogs are part of Be More Than a Bystander, a program designed to increase awareness about and understanding of the impact of violence against women and girls and to encourage people to speak out against demeaning and inappropriate behaviour.

The program is part of MentorAction, a group of male leaders in Hamilton that was set up several years ago by Interval House to address violence against women in the community.

Back in the kitchen, Afinec was frying some onions.

He said helping in the kitchen is a way for the Tiger-Cats to give back and recognize an important cause.

“I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that every man in every locker room has an influential woman in their life, and programs like this illuminate how important that really is,” he said. “The importance of respect transcends the competitive side of sports and needs to have a place in the locker room, so that we treat people with respect.”

Staios noted that having major junior hockey players at a very influential time of their lives enables the Bulldogs to instil in them respect for women.

“Between 16 and 20 years old is a perfect time for us to get these players to understand what respect is for everybody, and especially what respect is for women,” Staios said.

He noted that while hockey and football players are expected to show aggression during their games, that aggression must be left on the ice or the gridiron and not be taken back into the community.

Sargeant said having the presidents of the Tiger-Cats and Bulldogs on hand shows that the teams are committed to the Be More Than a Bystander program.

“It’s all about treating women with respect and leading by example,” he said.

Having the men in the kitchen at the shelter was also symbolic, noted Interval House of Hamilton executive director Nancy Smith.

“The kitchen is actually the most dangerous room in the house when a woman is experiencing abuse or violence,” Smith said. “Women have talked for years about incidents of violence around mealtime because dinners weren’t on the table on time, he didn’t like what was prepared, there wasn’t the food he liked in the house, all those kinds of excuses.”

Smith noted some women freeze up or are visibly nervous when they go into the shelter’s kitchen, because it reminds them of the violence they experienced at home.

While the women and children at the shelter were in a separate secure area while the food was being prepared, they were informed about the guests preparing dinner.

Hamilton Community News was not permitted to speak to them.

Renee, a longtime counsellor at Interval House who did not want to provide her last name, said men doing the cooking is a sign of hope for the folks staying there.

“It’s so important for males to come in and be a positive role model (for women and children) who haven’t had that in their life,” she said. “It gives them some comfort and reassurance that there are men out there that are willing to do this for them.”

The cooking session was recorded, and will be available on the Interval House website and on social media in the coming days as part of Be More Then a Bystander month.


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Hamilton Community News was invited to the historic cooking session that is part of Be More Than a Bystander, a program designed to increase awareness about and understanding of the impact of violence against women and girls and to encourage people to speak out against demeaning and inappropriate behaviour. 

A first for Interval House of Hamilton

Tiger-Cats and Bulldogs presidents make dinner for shelter residents

News Feb 12, 2020 by Mark Newman Hamilton Mountain News

It was a very special day at Interval House of Hamilton.

For the first time in the history of the shelter, men were invited into the kitchen on Feb. 12 to make dinner for the 29 women and children who are staying there.

The men were Matt Afinec, president and chief operating officer of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and Hamilton Bulldogs president and general manager Steve Staios.

They were assisted by former MentorAction chair Val Sargeant, and the group was guided by chef Ken LeFebour from Nellie James Gourmet Food to Go in Dundas. The menu featured Thai coconut curried chicken and a vegetarian alternative, both served with basmati rice seasoned with dill.

The Tiger-Cats and Bulldogs are part of Be More Than a Bystander, a program designed to increase awareness about and understanding of the impact of violence against women and girls and to encourage people to speak out against demeaning and inappropriate behaviour.

The program is part of MentorAction, a group of male leaders in Hamilton that was set up several years ago by Interval House to address violence against women in the community.

Back in the kitchen, Afinec was frying some onions.

He said helping in the kitchen is a way for the Tiger-Cats to give back and recognize an important cause.

“I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that every man in every locker room has an influential woman in their life, and programs like this illuminate how important that really is,” he said. “The importance of respect transcends the competitive side of sports and needs to have a place in the locker room, so that we treat people with respect.”

Staios noted that having major junior hockey players at a very influential time of their lives enables the Bulldogs to instil in them respect for women.

“Between 16 and 20 years old is a perfect time for us to get these players to understand what respect is for everybody, and especially what respect is for women,” Staios said.

He noted that while hockey and football players are expected to show aggression during their games, that aggression must be left on the ice or the gridiron and not be taken back into the community.

Sargeant said having the presidents of the Tiger-Cats and Bulldogs on hand shows that the teams are committed to the Be More Than a Bystander program.

“It’s all about treating women with respect and leading by example,” he said.

Having the men in the kitchen at the shelter was also symbolic, noted Interval House of Hamilton executive director Nancy Smith.

“The kitchen is actually the most dangerous room in the house when a woman is experiencing abuse or violence,” Smith said. “Women have talked for years about incidents of violence around mealtime because dinners weren’t on the table on time, he didn’t like what was prepared, there wasn’t the food he liked in the house, all those kinds of excuses.”

Smith noted some women freeze up or are visibly nervous when they go into the shelter’s kitchen, because it reminds them of the violence they experienced at home.

While the women and children at the shelter were in a separate secure area while the food was being prepared, they were informed about the guests preparing dinner.

Hamilton Community News was not permitted to speak to them.

Renee, a longtime counsellor at Interval House who did not want to provide her last name, said men doing the cooking is a sign of hope for the folks staying there.

“It’s so important for males to come in and be a positive role model (for women and children) who haven’t had that in their life,” she said. “It gives them some comfort and reassurance that there are men out there that are willing to do this for them.”

The cooking session was recorded, and will be available on the Interval House website and on social media in the coming days as part of Be More Then a Bystander month.


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Hamilton Community News was invited to the historic cooking session that is part of Be More Than a Bystander, a program designed to increase awareness about and understanding of the impact of violence against women and girls and to encourage people to speak out against demeaning and inappropriate behaviour. 

A first for Interval House of Hamilton

Tiger-Cats and Bulldogs presidents make dinner for shelter residents

News Feb 12, 2020 by Mark Newman Hamilton Mountain News

It was a very special day at Interval House of Hamilton.

For the first time in the history of the shelter, men were invited into the kitchen on Feb. 12 to make dinner for the 29 women and children who are staying there.

The men were Matt Afinec, president and chief operating officer of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and Hamilton Bulldogs president and general manager Steve Staios.

They were assisted by former MentorAction chair Val Sargeant, and the group was guided by chef Ken LeFebour from Nellie James Gourmet Food to Go in Dundas. The menu featured Thai coconut curried chicken and a vegetarian alternative, both served with basmati rice seasoned with dill.

The Tiger-Cats and Bulldogs are part of Be More Than a Bystander, a program designed to increase awareness about and understanding of the impact of violence against women and girls and to encourage people to speak out against demeaning and inappropriate behaviour.

The program is part of MentorAction, a group of male leaders in Hamilton that was set up several years ago by Interval House to address violence against women in the community.

Back in the kitchen, Afinec was frying some onions.

He said helping in the kitchen is a way for the Tiger-Cats to give back and recognize an important cause.

“I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that every man in every locker room has an influential woman in their life, and programs like this illuminate how important that really is,” he said. “The importance of respect transcends the competitive side of sports and needs to have a place in the locker room, so that we treat people with respect.”

Staios noted that having major junior hockey players at a very influential time of their lives enables the Bulldogs to instil in them respect for women.

“Between 16 and 20 years old is a perfect time for us to get these players to understand what respect is for everybody, and especially what respect is for women,” Staios said.

He noted that while hockey and football players are expected to show aggression during their games, that aggression must be left on the ice or the gridiron and not be taken back into the community.

Sargeant said having the presidents of the Tiger-Cats and Bulldogs on hand shows that the teams are committed to the Be More Than a Bystander program.

“It’s all about treating women with respect and leading by example,” he said.

Having the men in the kitchen at the shelter was also symbolic, noted Interval House of Hamilton executive director Nancy Smith.

“The kitchen is actually the most dangerous room in the house when a woman is experiencing abuse or violence,” Smith said. “Women have talked for years about incidents of violence around mealtime because dinners weren’t on the table on time, he didn’t like what was prepared, there wasn’t the food he liked in the house, all those kinds of excuses.”

Smith noted some women freeze up or are visibly nervous when they go into the shelter’s kitchen, because it reminds them of the violence they experienced at home.

While the women and children at the shelter were in a separate secure area while the food was being prepared, they were informed about the guests preparing dinner.

Hamilton Community News was not permitted to speak to them.

Renee, a longtime counsellor at Interval House who did not want to provide her last name, said men doing the cooking is a sign of hope for the folks staying there.

“It’s so important for males to come in and be a positive role model (for women and children) who haven’t had that in their life,” she said. “It gives them some comfort and reassurance that there are men out there that are willing to do this for them.”

The cooking session was recorded, and will be available on the Interval House website and on social media in the coming days as part of Be More Then a Bystander month.


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Hamilton Community News was invited to the historic cooking session that is part of Be More Than a Bystander, a program designed to increase awareness about and understanding of the impact of violence against women and girls and to encourage people to speak out against demeaning and inappropriate behaviour.