Giving thanks, giving back

I’m not a religious person but I will always say that I’ve been very blessed in my life despite all the challenges I’ve been through. If life was easy, it wouldn’t be called “life”. I have had the most wonderful Thanksgiving celebrations since I was kid as I’ve been blessed with such a huge family that always treasured our gatherings. I have very fond and vivid memories of the gatherings (I still remember the gathering at an aunt’s house where it held in the basement and all the food was spread over tables, the washer, the dyer, and freezer… that was the best gathering I’ve had to date) and it’s something that we talk about constantly.

This year I decided that I wanted, and needed, to give back for all I have received in life. I also felt, for a long time, that no one should go hungry and that no matter your situation you should always have the opportunity to have a warm, delicious meal on a holiday. This year I served hot meals at Siloam Mission.

Siloam’s mission is to “alleviate the hardships of the poor and homeless, assists in transitioning them into self-sufficient and generous lifestyles and advocates nationwide on their behalf.” As a Christian humanitarian agency they offer programs and services at no charge to those experiencing homelessness. (Source: Siloam Mission) You don’t have to be a Christian to volunteer your time, but they do ask you to respect their values and mission statement.

Serving dinner was an eye opener. I am very aware of Winnipeg’s homeless and poverty issues, but when you see children coming in for a hot meal… that is heartbreaking. But I made sure they had a good time and enjoyed their meal. We talked about school, their favourite part of Thanksgiving and if they’re excited about winter coming. I made sure that all of the guests were having fun and receiving a good meal. We talked, they shared their story and all of them thanked us, the volunteers, for coming in and serving them dinner.

It was my pleasure.

I don’t care what you think about homelessness and poverty, how they got there or how lazy they are (the common talk amongst people). The fact is they’re there and requiring these services. They are people and they deserve to be treated properly and with dignity. Yes, life is about making choices, but sometimes the choices are forced upon us and they’re out of our control.

This was about the community coming together and helping those who need it. It was fun, we shared a lot of laughs, I helped a mom whose son is being bullied (she needed some advice on how to go about it; school procedures) and talked about random things. It was busy, fast paced (didn’t get a chance to sit until end of dinner service) and my feet hurt at the end of the day, but the bigger picture is that I was able to help out a wonder establishment and hopefully help their clients forget about their issues for just a little while. I’ll definitely be back to help out.

To volunteer please visit the volunteer section of their website to learn how to get involved.

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