Local woman gives back to the homeless community

KENNEWICK, WA- A local woman is giving back to the community that once helped her through meals and donations. 

Two years ago, Areti Kounalis was homeless and lived in her car. She found help through the local community and also found her passion for giving back. 

"I volunteered at a couple of churches to serve dinners and make dinner and I was trying to stay productive through it all," Kounalis said. 

With the help of her local church and friends in the community, Kounalis is now living off the streets. But still giving back to those in need. 

Every week Kounalis makes dinner for those in need. Giving them one meal they can count on. 

"I can cook a nice hot pot of food and bring it out here one day a week, It doesn't hurt anyone. It actually helps a lot," Kounalis said. 

Kounalis said especially this time of the year the homeless need help and because of the COVID-19 pandemic, resources are even more limited. 

"They need warm coats, dog food, cat food... whatever we can distribute that's what we are accepting and that's what we are trying to do. It is going to start snowing and there's nowhere for anyone to go," Kounalis said. 

Kounalis said for many in need it is hard to find help and local shelters can be hard to get into. 

"The shelters that are set up with a lot of rules and regulations which is understandable. They need a different foundation, different people to help them and not look down and make people feel bad to about being homeless. You just kind of have to sit down and become friends, talk get to know each other," Kounalis said. 

But for her, it's about giving back to her friends and those who have helped her along the way. 

"It makes me feel really good because when I was homeless I wanted help but I had to go venture off and get it myself. It's not just feeding the homeless community in a bad way I just feel like they are apart of me," Kounalis said. 

Kounalis said she can take donations through her Facebook page. For those interested in helping the local community in need or wanting to learn more can visit Impact Compassion Center and ANSIL for more information.