Sometimes, it isn’t until you look back on something after years have passed that you see its value. That’s how Stew, owner and founder of The Munch Box in Kitchener, Ontario, feels when looking back at his time spent at Lutherwood.

Kyle “Stew” Stewart was once enrolled in one of Lutherwood’s children’s mental health programs. These day treatment programs are therapeutic services for children and youth between 6-18 who are experiencing significant emotional and behavioural difficulties. “At the time, going through it was really hard,” he said, adding it was difficult for him to follow the structure of the program because he was “rebellious.”

Over time, Stew recognized how the program helped him in many ways and he still uses some of those skills today. In fact, he sees “mental health” as the inspiration for his career path. Opening The Munch Box in 2020, he found that having his own business aligned with his mental health cause both personally and for the community. Working as his own boss and running his own business makes the stress of the job fun. “Business at the end of the day is fulfilling challenges. It’s stressful but it’s good stress rather than someone else’s stress.”

Stew uses his business to uplift and help the community. Having fallen on hard times himself, he “always looks for the opportunity to use the business for any sort of giving.” Among his many acts of charity are supporting Bell Let’s Talk Day, stocking community fridges, and most recently participating in the 519-community event providing food for those not able to make it to a soup kitchen. But it is those that struggle with mental health that have special meaning to him. Having donated over $2,700 to the Lutherwood Foundation he has a goal to continue to grow his business and to donate 2% of all Munch Box sales toward enriching his community.

“Being able to give back to Lutherwood is so important. I didn’t notice it at the time, but Lutherwood was an instrumental part of my development growing up.”