Eighteen years ago, volunteers from the Halifax-Dartmouth Church of Christ started to serve at a local Sunday Supper. Each Sunday evening, people from the surrounding communities who may be experiencing homelessness, or going through challenging times, or just need a warm meal and an even warmer smile are invited to drop by a local church hall. Over the years, this Supper has grown to serve almost 10,000 meals a year.
Five years ago, the Halifax Chapter of HOPE worldwide Canada took over the responsibility of fundraising, procuring, preparing and coordinating the serving of the meals when our turn in the weekly rotations came up; continuing upon the foundation laid by and increasing our partnership with the Halifax Dartmouth Church of Christ.
One of our volunteers, Marie-Elle Charlemagne recently shared that “most impacting moment of this past year” was serving at the Sunday Suppers. “This year my grandad passed away and my grandma was close to it, too. I decided to volunteer and took just a few moments one night to look at the people around me. The laughter I heard as our guests sat around the tables with their friends and family, telling stories and enjoying their meals, the smiles on the kids’ faces as they bit through their dessert, in those moments at Sunday Suppers, my heart was no longer consumed by grief and sadness but filled with warmth and joy.”
The Sunday Supper program has become the “flagship” community service program that HOPE worldwide Canada runs locally. One of the benefits of the level of engagement from our volunteers is to experience the ways that they are able to use their natural gifts and talents to meet more and more needs in the community.
As the Sunday Supper program has grown over the years, so too has the ways in which our many volunteers are able to “step up” and to meet these needs. One example is with a Foot Clinic that was set up to meet the needs of the Sunday Supper guests. This past September, the Foot Clinic was due for a “reboot” and one of our volunteers, Cameron Taylor (a second year Medical Student at Dalhousie University in Halifax) took over the operation and organization of the Foot Clinic, with several of his classmates and other students with an interest and calling in Health and Medical studies assisting him.
Another example is a new Clinic that we recently started at the Sunday Suppers. HOPE worldwide Canada volunteer, Jennifer Anyegah (a local Audiologist), observed one Sunday night that what she’s been trained in and does for a career could benefit the quality of life for some of the guests who were there, so she decided to start a “Hearing Test Clinic” run once a month at the Sunday Suppers. Jennifer shared, “I think the thing I appreciate the most about the opportunity to serve in this way is the way it gives those who are so often oppressed and forgotten in this society access to an aspect of health care that they might not necessarily go after or succeed in getting on their own. I appreciate the opportunity to make sure the people I see feel valued and that their health care needs are important.”
We appreciate all the ways in which the volunteers from the Halifax Chapter of HOPE worldwide Canada and from the Halifax-Dartmouth Church of Christ look for ways to meet needs in our community, and are willing to step up to meet those needs in a practical and compassionate way!