People living in today’s society, seem to spend most of their lives rushing around, always having something urgent on their mind and a million tasks to complete. It’s easy to get caught up in your own life and forget to consider what matters most.
I’d be the first to admit that I am no less guilty than the next person when it comes to not paying attention to the real issues in life and forgetting to help out those less fortunate. Living in a so-called developed nation, many people don’t realize the complexity of the many issues in our own backyard. However, mixed in with all of us mediocre citizens who don’t always remember what’s important, our own community is filled with many outstanding individuals who devote their entire lives to assisting those in need.
Since it began operating in 1986, Samaritan House Ministries Inc. has focused on offering not only physical help, but also emotional, intellectual and spiritual help in an attempt to meet the needs of the thousands of families who benefit from their support. As a non-profit organization, the staff and volunteers at Samaritan House recognize the need for balance in an individual’s life, and strive to make this balance come true with their many programs, fundraisers and classes.
Some of the many programs offered are food assistance programs. Their hamper program provides families with food hampers once every two weeks. The hampers are filled with canned goods, pasta, bread products, a small amount of protein, vegetables in season and milk for families with children or diabetics.
The statistics prove just how important this program is, with over 1200 hampers being provided each month, that’s nearly a 25 per cent increase in the last two years alone.
Another food program that the Samaritan house provides is the bread program, which provides bread and potatoes daily, a service used by approximately 30 people a day. To provide more food assistance, the Samaritan house also offers a frozen meal program. Twenty three per cent of people who use our local food banks are employed, hard-working individuals who are trying to live on minimum wage, but burdened with housing expenses and other costs, are unable to afford to eat.
In addition to the physical assistance, the Samaritan House also offers people help on an emotional level with their Family Group Conference Program and their Mary’s House Program.
The Family Group Conference is a way to bring families together in common interest and protection of their children.
The Mary’s House Program is safe, affordable housing provided to women leaving an abusive relationship. This program includes child counselling, parental support and referral to appropriate services, helping women start over new and live a violence-free life.
A proverb states that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. This is precisely the point that the Samaritan House makes by offering many classes to help people further their education and evolve in the workplace.
The classes are designed to help adults develop skills in reading, writing, mathematics, oral communication, working with others, critical thinking, continuous learning and basic computer skills.
The Samaritan House also offers spiritual assistance by allowing the people who participate in their programs to attend fellowship and devotions.
The programs mentioned are only part of the services the Samaritan House offers, and they wouldn’t be able to pull any of it off without the help and support of their many volunteers and partners, but there are still many goals to be accomplished.
In December, my English class got the chance to spend a morning helping out at the Samaritan House and learning about all they have to offer. This enriching experience gave us the chance to see first-hand all the effort that these wonderful people put into helping others.
It also opened our eyes to many problems that we didn’t realize occurred so close to home and made us realize that there is so much that people can do to help, even the smallest things make a difference to someone.
The Samaritan House dreams of one day being able to close its doors. With continued awareness, support and assistance, that dream may become a reality. They say there is strength in numbers and we are stronger as a group. If our whole community pulls together, we can accomplish great things.
Besides, before we can look at the bigger picture, we need to see what is right in front of our faces.
» Rikki Bergen, is a Grade 10 student at Neelin High School.