Giving Back

Today was the community Christmas meal at the Ottawa Mission – an organization in Ottawa dedicated to serving the homeless. What was once just a shelter for homeless men has grown into an organization that provides hope and bright futures.

This is an organization close to my heart. It does incredible things for Ottawa’s less fortunate. I have had the privilege of working with their leadership on initiatives to ensure no one has to live in a shelter.

I have seen the hope it restores. My most humbling experience was attending a high school graduation at the Mission. Three men all from different backgrounds received their high school diplomas. I was honoured to be in attendance. These individuals have more strength than I will ever know. 

This year I had an opportunity to volunteer at the Mission helping to serve their community Thanksgiving meal. Their “community” meals are open to the public giving men, women, seniors, family or anyone for that matter a place to enjoy a beautifully prepared meal and be catered to. They are, after all, human and we all deserve that.

I had raved about my Thanksgiving experience to Dani and she was all over it. She has felt so blessed over the last 8-9 months that she wanted to start to give back.

Dani hates driving downtown so I drove (I suspect James and their credit card is thankful for this since downtown is where the best shopping in Ottawa is). I could tell something was up as she was a bit off. Dani told me she was nervous which totally took me by surprise. Dani.  Nervous?

I took for granted that I have been in this environment many times before. I have had exposure to not just the operations of a shelter but to the people who use them. Even before I joined the social services sectors I looked at those less who are less fortunate the same I look at anyone else: greet them with a smile;  say “hi”; whatever. My sh*t stinks just like theirs.

What was there to be nervous about? I couldn’t figure it out. But then it occurred to me – it wasn’t the people, it was the unknown. Just like anything new there is some form of emotion that goes along with that whether it’s excitement, anxiety, fear, etc and this was no different.

We get there, introductions are made and we’re off to the dining room. I lead the way and show Dani where things are. As I put myself in her shoes I can see how it can be overwhelming. I know most of the staff and quite a few of the volunteers. Geez, I have done this before.

I am proud. Beaming actually. It’s hard to explain but I love that I am the one to provide her with this experience. That I get to be by her side. Whether she ever does it again or not, that doesn’t matter to me. She came with me and gave back. 


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