Here’s a fact: Edmonton is populated by—blessed with—open-handed and warm-hearted people. I suspect that for the most part we know this, it just doesn’t get the traction of a daily headline.
The advantage that those who work for social care organizations have, is that we get to meet and talk to hundreds—and over my 25-plus years at Hope Mission, thousands—of people who give of themselves to bring a bit of cheer and hope to homeless and hurting people in our city.
It may be fanciful, although not without merit, to picture Bethany’s project and her method as, say, St. Nicolas having a clearinghouse instead of a workshop.
You see, beginning last November Bethany began to put the word out—first among family and friends, then through Twitter and Facebook—that she would pick-up gently-used clothing from anyone who contacted her. Well, people called.
“Almost every night I’d go out picking up items from people all over the city.”
And, as happened, about ten days before Christmas, Bethany showed up to Hope Mission’s main building with a flatbed truck, loaded with jeans, shirts, socks, coats, jackets and other winter items. Enough clothing to overflow our storage rooms and possibly supply us for the next couple months.
Bethany’s interest in social care began when she was still in high school.
“I guess I always wanted to help people in need.”
“Seeing kids that didn’t have things like winter shoes really got to me.”
Today, as a Family Support Worker at E4C’s, Clareview Head Start, Bethany continues to pour her heart into the lives of vulnerable people.
For Bethany, her volunteer initiatives have an equally important goal: awareness.
“There are people on the street, people we may know, who may have started out like you and I, and things just happened. And we have a responsibility to care.”
“I want really want to get the word out that there are organizations, like Hope Mission, worthy of being supported; and too, that our city is populated with generous people.”
“People will surprise you. When they understand and are aware of the need, people give.”
When asked what advice she would offer others who desire to make a difference, Bethany says,
“Never give up on something you think is worthwhile. The first year I only collected 5 bags, this year I had over 50. Social media really worked this year.”
Bethany has contributed to a number of organizations over the years. (There are of course many wonderful agencies in our city, like the Bissell Centre, Boyle Street Community Services, Mustard Seed, Salvation Army, George Spady Centre and others.) This year Hope Mission was the fortunate one. So much so that it needed to share some of the donated clothing with a couple other agencies.
So thank you Bethany! Thank you for your kind words, for your selfless work and generous soul.
And to the thousands of donors, supporters and volunteers, who, like Bethany, give of themselves to spread hope, relieve poverty, and rescue lives—thank you!
Maybe, as we drive to work this morning, wait in line for our Americano, start down the rolling path of this still new year, it will help us to remember, in spite of that headline, that we walk among a host of caring people. There’s a line in one of the gospels that puts it this way: “the kingdom of God is among us.”