Feeling gratitude and admiration for the frontline workers helping those in need

This is the week that the now-filled boxes for the Reverse Advent Calendars I described in a post in late November are due for delivery.  Earlier this week I took my filled boxes to their intended destinations, one to our local Food Bank and the other to our local Homeless Shelter.  While en route, I also took some items we no longer need to our local Salvation Army Thrift Shop.



Each drop-off was a feel-good occasion, not because I was doing something to feel good about, but because the people working at each of these places were so darn positive.  Smiling, expressing their thanks, and getting on with their always-challenging tasks of trying to get the bare basics that people need accumulated and then distributed as widely and as appropriately as possible.  The people I interacted with at each place weren’t being well paid – they could undoubtedly do as well at Walmart – and a few of them may have been volunteers.  But their positive spirit was contagious.  That’s what I felt good about.

Very, very – very – few people go to food banks or live rough by choice.  OK, nobody.  And in most cases, it’s a question of “there but for the grace of God go I”.  Anyone can fall on hard times, that’s the scary reality.  Once you get there, digging yourself out is a lot easier for some than for others.  We may acquire an addiction that we never intended to acquire, possibly through nefarious means of a dealer, and just can’t overcome it on your own.  We may have a mental illness that isn’t recognized or treated, and have no-one who knows how to help.  We may lose our job, maybe just before a pandemic hits.  The domino effect of losing a job with no backup or no family support can leave us with no options, at least no options that we can recognize and have the means to follow.  There but for the grace of God.  And the numbers of people caught in this cruel situation seem to be growing everywhere.  People need help.  They need to feel help is available and that someone cares.

And that’s what struck me at each of my three drop-off spots; the people there aren’t just doing their jobs, they care.  Society needs more people like this, more people who care about helping others.  Surely there’s no better time for us to think about how we might be part of the solution than during Christmas and Chanukah.

One person in our community cared enough to make a remarkable difference through an innovative project he has undertaken.  Called the 12 Neighbours Community, local IT entrepreneur Marcel Lebrun project, pitched the project to our City Council last year, and was given approval to build on a 24-hectare site in the city.  The concept is to provide “tiny homes” to people who have been living in tents, and to provide as well social support and skills acquisition for gainful employment.  The first 12 tiny homes are now complete, and include solar panels to provide renewable energy.  A workshop has been built where the people now living there are learning the skills to be part of the team building additional tiny homes, with a plan for an eventual community of 96 homes.  The first couple to move into the community did so this past February, after 10 months of living in a tent, including in the middle of winter a Fredericton winter.  A new start.  Because someone cared, in this case Marcel Lebrun.  Marcel’s model for addressing homelessness has been noticed and interest has been sparked in communities across Canada.

From their website:

Our vision is to see people overcome barriers to a full and independent life.  The developmental supports we offer help community members achieve their goals. This includes access to substance use recovery counselling, opportunities to improve health and education, and more.  It is person-centric, trauma-informed, recovery oriented and strength-based.

From bare day-to-day survival Image:GlobalNews)RAC-TentCity

To a future filled with hope (Image: 12 Neighbours Community website)RAC-TinyHomes

Aside from considering donating or volunteering at organizations that help those in need, please consider reaching out and offering your thanks to those who are on the front lines helping.  You can start by smiling and thanking the person “manning” your local Sally Ann Christmas bucket.  According to the news, their donations are down this year, as are other charities.

Give in the spirit of Christmas.  It doesn’t have to be frankincense or myrrh! Merry Christmas.

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34 Responses to Feeling gratitude and admiration for the frontline workers helping those in need

  1. Marcel Lebrun’s ‘ 12 Neighbours Community’ is a wonderful initiative! Well done to caring Frederictonians, all of you! All the best for the holidays.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Jane for the nudge and hopefully some will follow. I started delivering groceries for our local food bank here and to say it has enhanced my feeling of gratitude for my life would be an understatement. Like you I have truly come to realize my status in life is more an accident of birth and good fortune than anything else.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dr. John Persico Jr. says:

    A nice message of caring and compassion for the Holiday Season. Another view of what the real meaning of Christmas is. Thanks for sharing Jane and have a very happy holiday. John

    Liked by 1 person

  4. heimdalco says:

    This is the most positive Christmas story (or any day story).

    As a retired front-line worker (OR RN in the only hospital in town that accepts emergencies) I remember just how unexpected & APPRECIATED a simple THANK YOU was. Occasionally a truly grateful family would send us cookies or doughnuts … & sometimes the emergency surgeons we worked with would send us pizza in the middle of the night for the dinner we missed while helping them with a gunshot wound of the head or some other surgical emergency. I may forget a lot of things about those long nights & understaffed days but I will never forget the kindness & the acts of appreciation.

    Now as president of a small local non-profit, what we do in the community, especially at Christmas warms my heart & MAKES Christmas for all of us. What we could never do individually we are able to do because of a lot of hard word as a group. We support 9 charities that care for people & animals & it just makes my heart happy.

    There are so many good people in our world & it takes so little to make their day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Healthcare professionals are another example of those on the frontline helping people, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the pandemic, it’s the gratitude we should all feel – and express – for the work they do. In describing your non-profit work, I think you’ve put your finger on the intangible gift that comes from being involved in helping those in need – it makes your heart happy. It’s as simple as that. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Positive, practical caring in action – thanks for sharing this. Grateful thanks to all who volunteer, help others and spread goodwill, not just at Christmas but throughout the year.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Margaret says:

    Having been a frontline worker and volunteer for the majority of my life my response is

    Seasons wishes to you Jane.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Deb says:

    We have a number of those tiny home communities throughout our region, and even more of the tent cities as they are commonly referred to. I think the donations levels being lower to various charities and food banks is sad because so many are on the verge of needing those services themselves. I hope that even doing something small, when an individual is able, will make some small difference in another person’s life. Have a good holiday Jane!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wynne Leon says:

    An incredibly inspiring post, Jane! Thank you for posting the reverse advent calendar idea – and your results! Love it.

    The 12 Neighbors Community is another wonderful story that you have such a knack for finding and writing about beautifully to inspire us all. Thank you for the true holiday spirit! Sending my best to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Aww, thanks very much, Wynne. You do that all the time with your posts! But we have many IT entrepreneurs here (some of them my former students) who have been extremely successful and have stayed here in our little corner of the world, giving back to their community and their province (and sometimes country) with their innovation, compassion, and let’s-get-it-done approach. I couldn’t be more proud of them, as well as of all the people who serve those who have less than themselves. They are the inspiration. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. A beautiful message. Thanks Jane.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It’s heartwarming to know that there are so many people who care enough to make a difference. Kudos to you and Marcel and all the others who are making a difference, not only this season, but year round. The world needs more of you!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Rose says:

    Thank-you Jane for always putting such wonderful kindnesses out into the world. 💖

    Liked by 1 person

  12. aradaghast says:

    En qualité de personnel de santé toujours en activité à 62 ans, je ne peux qu’ acquiescer. Dommage que cette prise de conscience ne soit pas plus partagée. Bonnes fêtes de fin d’année!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Bernie says:

    What a great story about the housing development. Also kudos for bringing your contributions and then thinking of those that do the work. I think I will use your list and make a couple to take for orthodox Christmas

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Roy McCarthy says:

    Our local food banks, as elsewhere in Britain are squeezed badly this year by increased demand and lower donations. Those manning the foodbanks are invariably volunteers, with perhaps one low-paid manager. A new phenomenon is those in full-time employment seeking help. Something is very wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Oh, something is very wrong, all right. In fact, it would appear that several things are very wrong, with the people at the top not having a bloody clue as to how to improve things … or at least not inclined to divvy things up in a fairer manner. We need to count our individual blessings and stay concerned about our collective needs.


  15. A great post, Jane. A coordinator for a yearly fundraising drive once started out a planning meeting by saying, “Down is not very far.” That immediately came back to me when I read your correct observation that anyone can call on hard times. That is so true, and giving either one’s time or money, or both, is such a helpful way to try and arrest those situations. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

  16. “Anyone can fall on hard times, that’s the scary reality. Once you get there, digging yourself out is a lot easier for some than for others.”
    This is so true, Jane. Thank you for sharing this lovely post! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Pingback: Food poverty increased – Some View on the World

  18. Pingback: Feeling gratitude and admiration for the frontline workers helping those in need – Aides

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