I’m serving soup from the back of a minivan parked in downtown Toronto. I ladle the vegetables swimming in broth into the cups and hand them to people lined up in the bitter cold. I remember the warmth of the soup leaking through my mittens and the warmth it brought others. As I pass out the soup, and the rolls, people thank me and smile.
In that moment I understood the impact of passing warmth. I understood the warmth I feel from helping others.
That was one of the times I volunteered to serve soup with the Hunger Patrol, which is still being run out of St. Olave’s. Each Saturday a handful of individuals make the soup to be served to the homeless. In the closet behind the Ethel Brown Room that connects to the Parish Hall, shelves are spilling with sweaters, pants, mittens, gloves, socks and jackets donated from the community. Each Saturday a bundle of clothing is tossed into the vehicle alongside the big container of soup, some rolls, some sandwiches and anything else that can be prepared and shared. The people were grateful to receive the soup and supplies, and I was grateful to be serving them.
This feeling is one of many things that St. Olave’s means to me. It is a place where I spent my youth. A place where I made friendships and a space of community. It was a place for personal growth.
St Olave’s means flipping pancakes alongside parishioners dedicated to ensuring Shrove Sunday celebrations are a success. St. Olave’s is a place where I became a confident performer and competent presenter (my sister and I can recite the entire Nativity Play by heart).
It presents an opportunity to become friends with people of all ages and different backgrounds. I remember being partnered with Sheila New in the mystery friends event with the ACW and exchanging letters with her when I was in Grade 9. It means building relationships that survive despite being at school halfway across the country. I’m always happy to participate in Youth Group events organized by Carol Ambler when I return.
St. Olave’s taught me selflessness. It taught me to be grateful for the things I have. It has taught me, or rather exposed me, to the invigorating feeling of doing good for someone else, which is something I’ll keeping trying to do.