“Usually, the Outreach Committee operates weekly drop-ins from mid-September until mid-May and takes the summer off to give our dedicated volunteers a chance to rest and relax,” committee chair Penny Ericson explained. “This year we decided to offer one gathering monthly because, as some of our guests have often reminded us, they're still poor in the summer!”
Penny said the event was popular and successful. On average, 45 people attended the sessions in June, July and August.
Parish nurse Kathleen Snow was one of the driving forces behind continuation of the program.
On average, 45 people attended the sessions in June, July and August.
“It was wonderful to see our clients over the summer months,” Kathleen said, adding that the need for this type of outreach is there for the full 12 months of the year. “The sense of community between these individuals and our volunteers is so heartwarming to witness; the goodwill and friendships are tangible.”
She provided blood pressure monitoring and blood glucose readings. “It has been a blessing to develop relationships with my clients and share with them in their concern for their health and well-being,” she said.
Volunteer musicians played and sang during two of the three sessions. Plenty of used clothing was available for browsing. New Maryland United Church and St. Margaret's Anglican Church participated throughout the summer which was an unexpected bonus for event organizers.
“We were inspired by studying Michael Frost's book, "Surprise the World," and learning about the importance of blessing, eating, listening,” said committee member Ann Deveau. “People at the cathedral took it to heart because we received wonderful donations of food, time or effort from people who have not previously been involved. We are grateful for the interest and support.”
Gratitude was also expressed by many of the guests who attended to eat sandwiches and muffins, drink juice and coffee, and to receive four city transit tickets or a $10 gift card from a local supermarket.
“It's really nice of you to give up some of your summer vacation to be here,” smiled one young man. “Every little bit helps.”
Another accepted a free bottle of water and a granola bar with her voucher. She said: “Thank you! The other churches in town all closed their programs for the whole summer, so this is great.”
Penny noted that St. Paul advised the church in Thessalonica to build up its faith by helping the weak and encouraging the disheartened.
“Paul's message is just as relevant in Fredericton 2000 years later, and it is still just as gratifying to give as to receive,” she said. “We will resume our weekly gatherings September 10th and hope that some people who assisted during the summer will want to continue.”