A community without volunteers wouldn’t be much of a community.
That’s the opinion of Doug Wright who has been a volunteer on a cathedral team at the Fredericton Community Kitchen for about 10 years.
“I think people have to go further than just sitting in the pews,” he said as he chopped broccoli for a salad one recent evening at the soup kitchen.
Working nearby, Wayne Phillips agreed. “It’s good to give back to the community,” he said. “Too often, the church is about money and politics, not about helping people.”
“I think people have to go further than just sitting in the pews …”
Wayne is a 17-year veteran at the kitchen, but newcomers feel the same way.
Rebecca Butler and Kurt Goddard joined a cathedral team this year. “I see it as another form of mission,” Rebecca said, thinking of the third Mark of Mission which is to respond to human need by loving service.
She and Sarah Petite wiped down tables in preparation for dozens of supper guests who would soon line up for turkey rice casserole, beets, vegetable soup, juice, coffee and sweet treats donated by a local “big box” store.
The cathedral’s Outreach Committee co-ordinates four teams who help the chef at supper time on Saturdays year-round. (The kitchen serves supper and lunch daily as well as breakfast on weekdays.) Duties include preparing and serving food, doing dishes, and cleaning up after the evening meal.
Each team has more than a dozen members, and four-to-six are expected to cover the two-hour shift which runs from 4 to 6 p.m. Ideally, it should mean one’s turn comes up every other month, but it varies in reality.
The guests stream in from the homeless shelters, rooming houses or shabby little apartments. A few are living on the street or are transients passing through due to unemployment, addictions, mental illness, poverty in general. Sometimes there are children.
“The people who come here are so grateful for what they receive and what we do.”
“It’s not a tough job,” said longtime volunteer Wayne Burley as he rinsed and stacked plates. “The people who come here are so grateful for what they receive and what we do.”
Jason Parsons stepped up a couple years ago. “I’m busy with my work and my three children, but it’s is a small commitment of time. It really gives all of us a chance to be the hands and feet of God in our city,” he said.
In recent years, the cathedral has not been able to provide enough volunteers to fill four teams. Currently, teams have non-cathedral members serving as volunteers which does add a nice social aspect to the work. If anyone is interested in finding out more, please contact Doug Milander from the Outreach Committee.