Helping Others... and Feeling Blessed

The opportunity to volunteer at the De Mazenod Door Outreach and Mission with Youth programs at St. Patrick’s Church has created wonderful experiences for me. De Mazenod Door’s mission is to give comfort and aid to the poor and marginalized in the Hamilton community that have nowhere else to turn to, and I have seen this put into action while being an active volunteer. I witnessed the reality of poverty within the Hamilton community, and even though it is truly a sad reality, it is amazing that this outreach is able to help a wide range of these individuals who suffer.

I did not just simply learn how to make a yummy sandwich; I learned how to use my compassion to help and support those individuals who are looking for a safer and healthier life. Although I witnessed the challenges that these individuals whom this outreach serves face every day, my favourite part was seeing the smiles on their faces when they are being nourished. Throughout my volunteer time, I researched about various services within Hamilton that provide resources for individuals in need, ranging from food banks, shelters, employment agencies, mental health services and many more.

As I work towards my Bachelor of Social Work degree, I believe becoming educated about these services within Hamilton is vital for my future career, no matter what field of social work I decide to pursue. Along with volunteering at the De Mazenod Door, volunteering at the Kids Klub program with the Mission with Youth has been another great opportunity. I love interacting with kids and teaching them new skills, so this program allowed me to do so in a fun and creative way while playing games, leading baking sessions, and letting them speak about their Christian faith.

Overall, the staff at St. Patrick’s has blessed me with these amazing opportunities to volunteer within the Hamilton community. I am so grateful to have met the kind and supportive staff and volunteers at St. Patrick’s whom have shared with me their wisdom as well as made me feel so welcome within the St. Patrick’s community.

Although I am very thankful to receive a bursary within the Summer Volunteer Bursary Program at King’s University College for my volunteer efforts, I would have done it without any compensation. Which is why I will remain a committed volunteer at De Mazenod Door, because I look forward to creating more valuable experiences and memories.

Cassandra
Volunteer

HUNGER DOES NOT TAKE A HOLIDAY

By Nadia Matos

On a cold winter’s day, when the temperature on the thermometer dips to minus 17, there are only a few creature comforts that help warm you from the inside. Things like as a warm pair of socks, a hot meal, and good cup of coffee, can usually do the trick, to make you feel better, and help to cheer you up. For those who came to the DeMazenod Door, for Sunday’s lunch, they were treated to all those things and just a little bit more.

It’s the fellowship and conversation that brings Margie and her husband to the lunch for the first time. “It was very nice to have a hot meal on a cold day,” says Margie.

Both Margie and her husband Dan are on the Ontario government’s basic income pilot project. She admits that they are doing much better, now that they are on the program, but says they often get very lonely. “People who are lonely get to have some fellowship… It’s good to have someplace to go… It makes me feel needed and wanted,” adds Margie. Margie and her husband were two of the 273 guests that came to the turkey lunch at St Patrick’s School.

Outreach Coordinator Sherri Ramirez says, for many local outreach organizations so much of their focus is spent on Christmas, but after the holidays, there aren’t many options for a hot meal. “Many of our guests struggle to make it through the month; even expressing how people will forget about them till Easter,” says Ramirez.

Jeremy, 44, one of the guests at Sunday’s gathering says, if he didn’t eat at Sunday’s lunch, there was good chance we wouldn’t eat at all. “I have a few friends, that would help me out [and give me food]. If they can’t help well, I guess I wouldn’t eat, but I would try tomorrow again.”

Before the guests left, they were told to pick up a gift bag. All of the 350 donated gift bags, came from parishes across the city, and the Good Shepherd. The bags contained, warm mittens, socks, a hat and some chocolate.

While the DeMazenod Door was open Christmas Day and New Year’s Day providing lunch, the work of feeding the poor and marginalised, isn’t a one day job. It continues 365 days a year at St Patrick’s.

“Hunger does not take a holiday nor does kindness and love for our community,” says Ramirez.