VIEWING OUR WORK THROUGH THE EYES OF A CHILD

Every once in a while we all need a lesson on perspective.

Kat Ford

Today was a day of all days.  I have been working at DeMazenod Door outreach program for almost 2 years, beginning at the door when we would get about 30 people, to today when we have lineups of up to 400 people per day.  Today was one of the most memorable (and I have had many, many memorable days).  This Saturday I was unsure of the number of volunteers that we would have… along with the uncertainty of how many guests we would have at the door.  Every day during the week we have a different group of volunteers for each day of the week.  These volunteers are the veterans of our day-to-day operations, the people that come in every week on a specific day and get right to work.  They know the ins and outs of what needs to be done at the De Mazenod Door and they are so seasoned that 90% of the time they do it without direction.

Today I heard a knock at the door at about 9:10 a.m. I opened the door to…“the Bonitatibus family”.  It was their first day volunteering at the De Mazenod Door.  They were a family of 5 with 3 children under the age of 9.  At first the children were a bit apprehensive.  Brayden 9, Tyler 8 and Brooke, only 5 years old.  They were shy when making my acquaintance, but I could tell that they were on a mission, as if Mom and Dad had given them a good talk on what they were about to experience that day.

Once I realized that the Bonitatibus family would be our only volunteers for the day, I decided to put the majority of my focus on the kids, for two reasons: to give them a great experience at the De Mazenod Door, and put them to work to have a successful day of serving our guests!  I never realized that I would get a major lesson on perspective.

As I said, I do this job every day.  For me, some days become “Groundhog Day” where it feels like the day before and the day before that.  Today I had the chance to view this work through new eyes, but, more importantly, through the eyes of a child.

Brayden, Tyler and Brooke got right to work – bagging snacks, preparing breakfast and lunch bags, getting hot chocolate ready and along the way cleaning up their mess to be able to move on to the next task.  After about 30 minutes I offered them a break to go play in the gym, since they were working so hard.  The boys took me up on my offer, but Brooke decided to stay and work through her break.  She was fiery and determined – she was here to work.  After 5 minutes, Tyler and Brayden came back and put themselves back to the grind.  After every task they looked at me and said “Kat!!  What’s next!??”

I must have heard my name 200 times that day, but for very good reason. They wanted to feel useful in their quest to help our guests at the door.  Once the doors, opened the 3 children joined me  to make sure everyone got their snacks and drinks… and a smile.  Mom and dad were also busy working hard!  Mom was continuously filling bowls full of hot spaghetti while Dad was on the busy coffee station, pushing them out as fast as they were going out the door.  Every guest at the door who saw the children working hard couldn’t keep from smiling.  Almost every guest made sure to say “thank you” to the children for their contribution.  This, in turn, brought an even bigger smile to the faces of the children.

For me, I was so proud to be a witness to both exchanges.  For someone who does this job every day and sees the same people every day, that day was an eye opener of the kind of work we are doing here, not only for the people receiving, but also for the people giving.  Viewing this job through new eyes and the eyes of children since that day has made me appreciate my job even more.  To watch this family come in together to serve the poor and marginalized and work as hard as they did for the people at the door was truly a blessing for me and I’m sure to our De Mazenod guests.  At the end of the day we were all exhausted physically, but mentally and spiritually we were completely lifted.

Every once in a while we all need a lesson on perspective.  To be able to view the world through someone else’s eyes, I’ve learned, is important for growth and for understanding.  I am beyond grateful to the Bonitatibus family for their hard work and dedication that day.  I feel rejuvenated as my perspective has been changed for the better to continue to do my job with a light heart and a smile on my face.  Thank you to Brayden, Tyler and Brooke.  I look forward to working with you again soon!!

 

 

SIENNA & GRACE

The trip at St. Pat’s was a great opportunity for us to learn about ways to help others in need. It was a reminder to show that people really do struggle for food, clothing and love. Although we don’t see many people who are homeless and it was a little scary at first, we learned they are all human and they are just like us. This trip also helped us to work together with our peers for a great cause. When we gave people their food with a smile on our face, the look on their face was worth it. St. Pat’s inspired us to help others more, no matter who they are. It showed us that people like them aren’t harmful, so a friendly smile and wave won’t hurt. The trip to St. Pat’s was a great experience and if they are going to do this trip next year too, then I will guarantee those students that this will be an awesome trip.

When we gave people their food with a smile on our face, the look on their face was worth it.

JESSICA & ABIGAIL

This experience will forever change the way we look at life.

On October 19th, 2018, some of the grade 8’s from St. Matthew School were invited to an eye opening experience. We were welcomed to St. Pat’s parish to feed the hungry and the homeless. We are so fortunate to have been a part of that. The bus arrived a little bit late, but we got to work immediately. We split into groups and started cutting pies, bagging chocolates and putting together wafers. We were extremely focused as we worked and got an amazing amount of snacks made.

Afterwards, we attended a mass and it felt deeply special. We felt especially connected to God while in the mass. Some students even volunteered to read during the mass. Thereafter, we helped with the barbecue and handing out hotdogs and hamburgers to the people in line. This exact experience will leave a lasting impression on us forever and always.

Handing out food filled us with utter pleasure, but also deep sadness. Everyone we handed food to were always so grateful and would respond to us with comments like “God bless you” and “Thank you very much.” It warmed our hearts just knowing that we could help. But us as students only saw the very least of poverty in our city. Us as students don’t understand the problems and complications in our own city. We want to learn more, and it hurts us that we can only help so much.

This experience will forever change the way we look at life, and we appreciate everything in our lives so much more.

Remembering Alex

On Friday, October 27, our family had the privilege of sponsoring a barbeque at the De Mazenod Door Outreach located at St. Patrick’s Church in Hamilton. It was held in memory of Alexander Donald, son, brother, nephew, cousin and friend, who passed away suddenly in September. Our family could not think of a better way to honour and celebrate his life.  Alex would be so happy that we helped those in need! And what an experience it was! The BBQ was super organized. Sherri, Diane, Rita, Kat and Dan were so helpful and both Fr. Tony and Fr. Jarek were there to support us. We could feel the sense of fellowship in the St. Patrick Church community and the presence of God in the exchange between us and those that we served. It was an eye-opening experience for us, one that also opened our hearts.  Some comments from family members:

‘Everyone was so grateful!’ ‘Beautiful experience!’ ‘Everyone was so polite. It was amazing!’ ‘One gentleman said that he would pray for us.’ ‘What a church! God feels so alive here!’  ‘ I can see God’s work in action!’ ‘This experience has opened my heart.’

The entire Donald family would like to thank all of the extraordinary people at St. Patrick’s for giving us the opportunity share our love for Alex.  He would be so proud!

“Our family could not think of a better way to honour and celebrate his life.”