September 01, 2015


People who volunteer at The Ottawa Mission are motivated to do so for many reasons. For Lilly Priebe and her daughter, Kelsey Gutoskie, their motivation is deeply personal. Just over a year ago, Lilly and Kelsey lost Jordan, their son and brother respectively, to mental illness. Jordan was part of a warm and loving family, and was himself a very kind and caring person. In his memory, Lilly and Kelsey wanted to do something to help others who were suffering who did not have the benefit of family love and support. Their journey led them all the way from Pembroke to volunteer at The Mission.

They have served long hours at our Christmas and Easter holiday dinners, and also fundraised close to $3,000 for our Coldest Night of the Year walk in February. In May, Lilly celebrated her birthday – the first one since losing Jordan. Kelsey wanted this to be a special, uplifting celebration for her mother, so she arranged for them to volunteer in our kitchen that day. She also arranged with the kitchen staff to serve birthday cake to all those who came in for their lunch that day – a real treat!

Lilly and Kelsey would be the first to admit that they are getting so much more from their volunteer work than they are giving. As Lilly says, “The atmosphere at The Mission is wonderful. People who are hungry and homeless are treated with the dignity and human kindness that everyone deserves. And the smiles you get from those you serve are like gifts.”

Lilly and Kelsey are committed to continuing to travel in from Pembroke to The Mission whenever they can, and we are so thankful to have them as part of our volunteer family.