In just over a month I turn 65. I am moving into Elderhood as graciously as I can. And perhaps not in the normal way of doing things, I am going back to work.
Not at the library, this time.
Last summer when I was planning my move to Nanaimo, I started looking around for a community of like-minded people. Having been a member of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, which nicely mirrored and supported my values in both my everyday and spiritual life, I was hoping to find the same in my new neighbourhood.
I did. I was thrilled to discover the First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo (FUFON), where I was welcomed in so warmly to its inclusive, open congregation.
And where, very early on, I discovered important work being done.
The Unitarian Shelter has been providing a non-judgemental welcome, a warm bed, hot meals, and companionship to Nanaimo’s homeless for eight seasons. This ‘low-barrier’ shelter, supported by the Fellowship’s congregation, the community, and with federal and provincial funding and a grant from the City of Nanaimo, will open its doors again in October offering a safe, warm and dry overnight environment for men and women from Nanaimo’s streets.
And I’m thrilled to begin serving as the shelter’s Executive Director on August 1.
I won’t be making beds, preparing meals, overseeing the laundry, or cleaning the washrooms – other than on an occasional volunteer basis. That is best left to the Shelter Coordinator and his dedicated team of staff and volunteers. I’ll be ‘in the back’, helping build and maintain relationships with the FUFON congregation, funders, donors and volunteers and looking for new ways to spread the word about the shelter, generate funds, and build awareness of homelessness in our communities.
I am so proud to be doing this work.
And so very sad that in these times, it still has to be done.
“Do not avert your eyes.
It is important that you see this. It is important that you feel this.”