Working with our Neighbours!
After the Annual Vestry in February, we put together a small working group to answer the question asked by our Diocese: “What unmet needs exist in our local community, and how might we help?”
We realised that we really did not know the answer, and that we would have to take some time to explore it. We listed many possible options, among which there was an idea to talk to Shanty Bay Public School. Initially we thought that perhaps they could help us find some answers to our question, but as our discussions with them progressed, a very exciting thing happened. We found that they were already engaged in a program designed to help kids discover areas of real need in which they felt passionate about helping. We went to an event in the school gym and had the chance to visit about twenty different booths where the students were presenting their projects, displaying what they had achieved in the year. It was more than exciting. It was inspiring! Here were kids in our community making a difference in the community and in the world on important issues. Among these inspiring children was Debi and Scott’s grand daughter, Maeve, who had chosen to work on recycling of plastics from pens that currently end up in our landfill sites. You may remember that we asked her to talk to us one Sunday this summer about her project and the Change Agent Program.
As we talked with the school staff, a wonderful thing happened. They told us that the program had had such an impact that the number of students was exploding so fast that they did not have enough staff to work with the students, guiding them on their projects. It seemed that we had found the answer to our question. We had found a very important place in our community where some vital unmet needs existed, and our Working Group enthusiastically responded to this opportunity.
And so, if you were to wander in to Shanty Bay Public School on the appropriate day each week, you might find Michael and Debi, perhaps sitting on the floor in a downstairs corridor, surrounded by their teams of students, asking questions and making suggestions and challenges. Along the corridor a little way you might find Shari and myself similarly engaged. In the school gym, you might find the rest of the seventy odd students who have been challenged and inspired by an amazing staff team to make their difference in the world. At the other end of the school, Sharren was meeting with a group of grade seven and eights who have committed to be part of the Out of the Cold program, where we provide a hot dinner to fourty of the homeless people that are part of the Busby Center community. On November 10 Sharren will be working with them in the school kitchen to cook a dinner of grilled sausages, mashed potatoes, and roasted Fall vegetables, and later on in February Davina will work with them similarly. In one of our other areas of ministry, Sandwich Sunday, Jan is exploring how a team of students might help there.
There are even more ideas where we might be of help. Ted has suggested that the O’Brian House might be somewhere that students could make a real difference in people’s lives, and he is exploring that idea.
It is hard to be involved in this program and not to come away at the end of the afternoon feeling that we are indeed helping a little, not only in working on important needs today, but also in helping children discover how they can impact their world both now and in years to come.
Shanty Bay School is a place where it is easy to see and to feel Love, and it is our privilege to be included in their circle. Michael and Norm were the first ones to explore this partnership. They came back to us to report, and finished this way: “Where were teachers like this when we were at school?”