A Raincoat of Hope

If there’s beauty to be found in an alley with broken pavement near a shelter full of people with broken dreams, trust me to find it. Today, there was a strawberry yarrow plant growing wild. I’m not going to tell you how much I paid for a similar plant at a garden centre! It brightened my day as I took the alley short-cut to the homeless centre.


A homeless man unfamiliar to me asked my name when I was washing dishes. He told me his name and proudly showed off a raincoat he acquired here today.  He said he’s been trying to become more independent. Having a raincoat meant  he’d be able to walk in the rain to another overnight shelter to sleep for the night, instead of relying on friends to lend him their couch.

Couch-surfing. It’s what many of the homeless do. They have no place to stay and are reliant on family and friends until they figure out how to change their life. Often the family and friends don’t have the patience to wait that long and the homeless person is once again on the street, seeking shelter.

One step at a time. That raincoat represented more than a baby step for this man in his late thirties. It represented hope. He was proud of his decision to be more independent and couldn’t wait to tell someone about it. So, thanks to all who’ve donated clothing to the shelter. You’ve done good!

I had an easy day today. Lots of volunteers. A  student serving food  says she’ll be here all week. Then, she has to prepare for her clinical psychology studies for her first year of university in Ottawa. What a help she was! The regular dishwasher was here as well; my favourite dishwashing sidekick.  A man about my age helped out too but left shortly after I arrived. I think everyone put in an extra effort today because the administrator and her husband are in London with Sarah-Lynn, a long-time volunteer. She’s recovering from a successful triple bypass.  The place ran smoothly!

For lunch, there were two kinds of soup: cabbage and black-eyed peas soup! Also, hot dogs and fettucine alftredo. Freezer bags of penne were available for the folks to take home. My friend, Big Ant put me to work in the kitchen today. I flipped burgers! Thirty -six beef burgers. One did not survive my flipping—it crumbled– and that was the “sample” burger for Big Ant. I also pan-fried about twenty chicken burgers. We cooked two trays of twenty-four chicken burgers each in the oven too. But, I think my stove-top ones looked better. You have to take pride in your work, after all!  I was teased that I was the new “short”order cook. You see, I’m under 5 feet tall.


The kitchen is small, maybe 6 feet by 6 feet with a restaurant style oven with gas burners. Between the two pans of burgers cooking and the oven at 450 degrees, well, it was hot, hot, hot! But, there’s a window of sorts to the front entrance so I could catch a breeze every time someone entered the shelter. Plus, I got a chance to say hello to the folks as they came and went. Which is what I enjoy most!

A great day!

4 thoughts on “A Raincoat of Hope

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