As she approached retirement after 40 years as a counsellor and social worker, Jean Wylie was looking for volunteer opportunities. Thankfully for us, she answered the call one day to help make sandwiches at The Ottawa Mission. That was seven years ago, and Jean has become a familiar face to the staff and clients at The Mission where she never misses her Tuesday shift helping to prepare and serve meals.
Beyond this, Jean volunteers or participates in just about every community fundraiser that The Mission is involved in – including Coldest Night of the Year, WestFest and many more.
But for Jean, working in the kitchen and serving people in need holds a special place in her heart. She points out that many clients at first are reluctant to even make eye contact with the volunteers and staff. But, she says that over time they come to trust you. “Sharing a smile with someone who likely doesn’t get a lot of people smiling at them during their day is an uplifting experience. And the gratitude they express is overwhelming. I’m also very grateful.”
As Jean was returning home from the shelter recently, still wearing her Mission Volunteer t-shirt, she was approached at the bus stop by a young man. He wanted her to know that five years ago he was a client at The Mission, and his life has totally turned around. He is working full time and has a place of his own. He just wanted Jean to know that her work as a volunteer really matters.
It really matters to us too Jean! Thank you and God bless.