Stepping up to stamp out hunger

Hunger is more than a gnawing, empty pain in the pit of the stomach. It’s a thief that steals a person’s dignity and assaults their humanity.

Two people from very different backgrounds have stepped forward to help Good Shepherd stamp out hunger and restore hope and dignity to neighbours in need.

Marc is a retired businessman who lives with his wife in Burlington. Motivated by a strong faith and gratitude for his success and good fortune, he feels a sense of duty to help those in need.

After reading an article in his church bulletin about a shortage of food at the Good Shepherd Venture Centre, Marc knew he had to act.

“It was really a no-brainer,” he says. “For people who can afford it, there is no greater charity than to feed the hungry. If you don’t have anything to eat or clothes to wear, that’s about as bad as it gets.”

In December, 2016, Marc called Cathy Wellwood, Good Shepherd’s chief development officer, and offered to make a monthly donation of $1,000 over the next five years to support the purchase of food for clients of the Venture Centre Market Place.

Marc is quick to acknowledge that making this type of financial commitment is not for everyone and values the contributions made by people who donate food or volunteer their time at the Centre. But he’s encouraging at least 10 people or corporations who have the resources to step up and donate $1,000 to support the Venture Centre.

“If you’ve been blessed and you’ve done very well financially, I encourage you to make a commitment to the Good Shepherd and let’s stamp out the hunger problem in this region,” he says.

Lori, a small business owner from Oakville, has found a distinctive way to help the hungry and honour a family tradition. Raised in what she calls a “typical Italo-Canadian home,” faith and family have always been the focal point of her life.

Last August, while driving along Cannon Street East in Hamilton, Lori spotted the Venture Centre. She remembered reading about Good Shepherd and decided to drop in.

“I went in and asked one of the staff how I could make a donation to provide a hot meal at the men’s shelter,” remembers Lori. “I was told to go across the street to The Good Shepherd Centre, where I met Brother Nick and explained what I wanted to do.”

Not only did Lori donate $300 to offset the cost of providing an evening meal, she donated her time to help prepare and serve it. She says it was an eye-opening experience.

“We sometimes have preconceived notions about people in homeless shelters. The people I saw that night could have been sitting next to me in church.”

The experience was so rewarding that Lori decided to provide a meal at the Centre on January 17 to celebrate the feast day of her family’s patron saint, St. Anthony Abbot. She wanted the meal to be special and asked how much it would cost to “upgrade” the menu. For an additional $200, Lori’s St. Anthony Abbot Feast Day menu included a quarter chicken dinner with mashed potatoes, corn and gravy.

Lori plans to make the St. Anthony Abbot’s Feast Day meal at The Good Shepherd Centre an annual tradition.

“So many times when we donate, we don’t know where the money goes, but I know where my donation went – it went on the dinner plates. And I didn’t just see it with my eyes, I felt it in my heart. I would encourage everyone to experience the joy of giving this way.”