by Janice Burdon
Thanksgiving is a time for us to take a mental count of all our blessings. Health, family, job and material goods are all examples of what we should be grateful for, yet we seem to suffer from the ‘want more’ syndrome. A newer car, bigger house, fancier designer clothes, a raise and the latest electronic devices are all on our wish lists. Why can’t we just be happy with what we have? Whatever happened to good old-fashioned contentment? For 54-year-old Kim Reid, it’s all about perspective. “I would love a nicer, newer car but when I think that just five kilometres down the street lives a family that can’t even afford a meal, it kind of puts life in perspective. Seeing people who are so grateful for even the littlest things in life like a hot meal, makes me even more thankful for what I have.”
Reid began a drop-in centre for teens called The Vault back in 1992 in Pointe-Claire. Teens would come and hang out, play pool and eat. It was a place to feel safe, a place where they felt accepted. Then in 1998, The Vault relocated to a building on St. Charles where it took a different direction altogether. One day, in walked an 81-year old lady by the name of Mary Straw who needed some space for her food bank on Mondays to serve some 40 families. Reid at the time had no objections and so agreed to help out. Slowly the focus of The Vault changed from a teen centre to a food bank/diner to meet a growing demand to feed up to 170 impoverished families in Montreal per week. The ministry took on the name ‘On Rock’ and with the space of only 10,000 square ft, the food bank is recognized as a charitable organization, which gives away a whopping $24,800 worth of food per week!
Volunteers flood in from all walks of life to help out at the centre. Some come from churches, others from the West Island Volunteer Agency and other venues, but they all have the same purpose, which is meeting whatever needs the community may have. They get calls from the CLSC and even the police confirming that certain families in their district literally have nothing to eat. “Even with the high demand, the meals aren’t free,” explains Reid. “We charge $2 per person and $5 per family because we want people to keep their dignity. They want to feel they’ve contributed, even in a little way but we never turn away anyone who can’t afford to pay.” The volunteers try to make the ‘soup kitchen’ unlike a typical soup kitchen so they celebrate birthdays and holidays by decorating and even have ethnic theme nights. “Even Pierrefonds-Dollard MP Lysane Blanchette came in and did a Columbia supper one night,” says Reid.
“People get the wrong impression about the families we serve and think they are just lazy but it’s amazing to hear their stories,” says Reid. In an interview, Reid explains that some of the needy families are immigrants who don’t speak French and have to learn the language before getting a job. Others are living below the poverty line with part-time jobs who can’t make enough to live on while some are older people who have been laid off early so companies can hire cheaper part-time labour.
You would think that this organization needs food but really they receive quite a lot of food donations. Their real need is for funds to pay for their building, utilities and staff who work there on a regular basis. “If a lot of people put a drop in the bucket, the bucket will be full” and so Reid has come up with the $25×500 Thanksgiving challenge. 500 people who are willing to give $25 monthly for a year to keep this important ministry going is his challenge. When I asked Reid why he continues to do what he’s doing, his reply touched me deeply. “If I sell the message, I have to walk it,” he said. “What message is that? ” I asked. Reid told me that it was found in Matthew 25, where Jesus said, “When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you invited me in.” “When did we see you hungry, thirsty and naked?” Jesus answered them, “to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to me.”
With tears in my eyes, I realized that each one of us can make a small difference and when we show kindness to our fellow human beings, we show it to God. With that, I told Kim Reid that I would be his first $25×500 challenger.
For those wishing to contribute financially or in any other way, ‘On Rock’ is located at 9554 Gouin blvd. west. 514-696-1905
Janice Burdon is a passionate fitness instructor/storyteller. For more info on her fitness courses, please visit her website at www.ultimatemotionfitness.ca
If you have a good story to share, contact Janice at email@example.com