The parking lot is empty, no one in sight
Up the steps, tap the door on the right.
My cause today, is one worthwhile
I’m welcomed, a handshake, a smile.
I’m shown the kitchen, utensils and safety
Tasked to make a salad so fresh and tasty.
Given an apron, a knife and a bowl
With donated food, that is my goal.
15 volunteers all in good cheer
To prepare a meal, serve and clear.
Doors swing open just at eleven
Thank the Lord, our God in heaven.
They come from here and from there
Maybe they come from nowhere.
Some lonely, some together, some with child
Some eager, some meek, others mild.
They sit, they chat, and eat peacefully
Appreciate the warm meal lovingly.
They leave with a loaf and a few sweet treats
Say thank you and head back to the streets.
I’m blessed, I’m grateful for all I own
No reason for me to bemoan.
I’m glad I can lend this helping hand
For those less fortunate and in demand.
My aunts on my mother’s side were excellent quilters. They owned a quilt frame and spent many a night telling stories while hand stitching quilts. Their closets were full and I am pleased I have received quite a few over the years. They are keepsakes as my aunts are now deceased.
When my aunt Marie learned we were building a cottage, she made 3 quirky quilts with leftover material. She referred to our cottage as the “camp”. While cleaning, I found them wrapped in tissue in protective bags. They are in excellent condition because they were hardly ever used.
My sister was visiting us while we were at the cottage and in conversation she mentioned that the Fredericton Homeless Shelter could use some blankets. I thought this would be a great donation and sent them off with her. After the blankets were delivered, my sister called to let me know that the manager was thrilled and so thankful of the donation. The shelter has been constantly busy with over 27 men each night. Donations such as these come in very handy.
I like giving – gifts, my time when volunteering, articles others can use. This giving is something that will bring warmth to many who live on the streets and who have very little.
There is no shortage of volunteer work at the SCYC Yacht Club. Of the many committees, the Social Committee works hard and puts on great events like destination outings, club socials, the Commodores’ Ball and more. To start off the boating season, they organized the “Sail Past”. They needed volunteers and I offered.
The Sail Past is all about kicking off the boating season, paying respect to the Commodore and reviewing the yacht club fleet. It is a tradition that goes back 600+ years in the Royal Navy and has become a norm in yacht clubs.
Long before the event took place, like 2 months, lots of planning and organizing were essential. Finding people to deliver speeches, arrange electronics and music, plan food, brainstorm decorations, schedule timing of events, secure facility, the list goes on. It all adds up to putting on a great day and many hands make light work.
The event started early afternoon under sunny skies with yacht club members and friends gathering on the docks. There is much fanfare with the piper leading the procession of yacht club executives present and past. Boaters were welcomed, followed by a few speeches and then we were off to “Sail Past” the Commodores’ boat. There were over 25 boats participating. Flags were flying and everyone looked their best.
The Sail Past was extra special this year because it is the Yacht Clubs 40th Anniversary. To celebrate, everyone was invited to a “Picnic” with live music at the Fairwinds Golf Club. The décor was fun, inviting and bang on. Even down to the ants and ladybugs on the colored gingham tablecloths with buckets of snacks. The picnic included BBQ chicken, pulled pork, salads, drinks and cake.
It was a pleasure working for the organizers. They were thorough and on the ball. Judging by the smiles and laughs, yacht club members totally enjoyed the festive day. Mingling amongst boating friends and hearing stories and tales of the sailing season to be had is making me want to get out there sooner than later.
I know why I included this on my list. I miss my parents. They have both passed away and deep down I wanted to be around elderly people. But why do I say “elderly”? I never viewed my parents as elderly, senior maybe. My Mom had a great sense of humour right up until she passed away at 90. She always said that the residents in the Seniors Home were old. I think at the end she was the oldest in age. My Dad was a “bon vivant” and would have given the shirt of his back to someone who needed it. He had friends of all ages and could tell a mean story. He sometimes stretched the truth but that is what made his story telling special.
I had the opportunity to help a friend who volunteers with the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada. Every Friday afternoon, about 15 active seniors with “early stage” dementia, come to the Community Centre accompanied by a caregiver (spouse, child or friendly neighbour) for an hour and a half. The first 45 minutes are dedicated to exercise. This put me back at the Seniors Home where I had attended the same kind of activities with Mom. After exercises, there are snacks and refreshments followed by games or just plain chit-chat.
I had a great time working on balance exercises, playing games and laughing with complete strangers. Some of the folks were not much older than me and even people of advanced age with diminishing cognition remain fit, vital, interesting and entertaining.
What an eye opener afternoon and it went by so fast. Most go about their business but there are always a few who like to joke around. They enjoy time with the volunteers and really get a kick out of the fitness instructor. And the volunteers do it because it brings them the same enjoyment.
My friend commented, “I don’t know how the caregivers do it every day… I feel honoured to know these folks and to witness their love for one another.”
I don’t pay attention to age. I hang out with people younger and older than me and I enjoy them all. It keeps you young or it grounds you. Today was no exception and I realize the word “elderly” to me, means “Having been around the block”.
I’ll go back to help beyond my list of 60while60.
I changed “Buy Coffee” to “Buy Something” for someone I don’t know. All because of my encounter at the grocery store.
I was at the grocery store buying flowers for the house. Something I am doing every month. It’s on “The List”. While waiting at the check out, a young boy behind me was patiently waiting for his turn to cash through. He must have been about 10. He had his bike helmet on, the cutest dimpled cheeks and a warm smile.
I asked him, “are you buying an after school snack?” He replied, “no”. “Then it’s just a snack?” He shrugged his shoulders. The cashier informed me it was Pro-D day so no school, hence his response that it was not an after school snack. “Your Mom told you not to speak to strangers, right?” He nodded yes. I went on asking questions while at the same time talking to the cashier. “Are you buying your snack with your money?” I asked. He nodded again, feeling a bit awkward that he wasn’t using words. I looked at the cashier and she was smiling. I quietly told her I would pay for his purchase. There was something about his demeanor, politeness or was it what he was buying? So she scanned my flowers, his pop and chips. I see this as the equivalent of an adult order of coffee and muffin.
Meanwhile, the boy was counting his money, oblivious to the conversation the cashier and I were having. Turns out she knew him very well as he and her son are best of friends. She handed him his bag and before he could say how much, “no charge and pointed at me”. He was stunned at first and then his face came alive with the biggest grin and those dimples disappearing in his smile. “Thank you so much, you are very kind. I can’t wait to tell my friend”.
As I left the store, I realized it was what he was buying that triggered my reaction. When I was that age, 25¢ in my pocket bought me quite a lot. I would head up to “Garage Comeau et Savoie” and buy an orange crush for 10¢ then run down to “Au Royaume du Cadeaux”, better known as “Chez Junior”, and buy a chocolate bar for 10¢ and a bag of chips for 5¢. Crazy! what 25¢ bought in those days!
I was wondering how this item on my list was going to play out. I wasn’t looking for it, it just happened spontaneously. It felt gratifying to have done such a small act of kindness that brought joy to both of us.