Sunday, September 11, 2011

A National Day of Service

Ten years ago today I was visiting a home care patient and remember watching with incredulity the TV images of the first attack on the World Trade Centre. Our world has changed much in the ensuing decade with ongoing wars, suspicion, fear and uncertainty.

This week our Prime Minister declared September 11th to be a National Day of Service in Canada. In his words Stephen Harper expressed "hope that this National Day of Service, observed hereafter on September 11, will inspire Canadians to once more show the same kind of compassion to strangers in need, by engaging on that day in charitable activities, fundraisers and community service for worthy causes ...."A National Day of Service will be a fitting way to pay tributes to the 9/11 victims and their families, to honour those involved in the rescue efforts, and to turn an infamous date into a day of hope marked by a communal outpouring of warmth and generosity."


I admire the many people in my community, country and around the world who quietly demonstrate charity and compassion to strangers on a daily basis. We do not have to look far to see those in need. For some time I have wanted to get involved in volunteering in our downtown core among the poor, ill and needy who live there. I worked in the area for five years when I did home care and was sometimes judgemental and cautious around my clients.

There is a large community centre downtown which provides a daily meal, a food bank, used clothing store, laundry and shower facilities, counselling and spiritual care for the needy. Monday was my first evening to assist with the meal. I was expecting to see the average "street person" there, addicts and homeless types. To my surprise, there were those with physical disabilities, the elderly and single family poor, skilled workers without jobs, and disadvantaged young adults. The centre feeds between 150 to 250 people a day. Various churches and charitable organizations take turns buying, preparing and serving the meals and local businesses and food outlets donate excess inventory.


Yesterday, after four hours of hard work, the meal was ready and the doors about to open. The volunteers took time to pray for those about to enter. An hour later, there still was a line to the parking lot of people waiting to enter but they would find physical and spiritual nourishment. 

I give credit to the volunteers at this centre who quietly donate many hours each week without the urging of our Prime Minister. They are not fearful of those who are different and they work to break down the barriers which keep the needy from having a meaningful role in our community. 

Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others.
1 Timothy 6:17, 18

4 comments:

  1. This is very touching. And SH does come through every now and then. :)

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  2. So fitting to make this a day of hope!

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  3. How rewarding!!!

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  4. What a beautiful and heart-felt post. I think a National Day of Service is just perfect!

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