“I have a whole new perspective of me. I’ve been feeling good about myself because I know there are a lot of things I can do. I’ve overcome a hurdle.” – Rachelle Smith
Contributed by: Katherine Allen
A year ago this February, Rachelle was connected to the Sharing Abundance community lunch at Saint Andrew’s-Wesley United Church. The lunch is a collaborative effort between Sharing Abundance, a local not-for-profit whose mandate is to ‘offer welcoming places where food and community meet’, and the Saint Andrew’s-Wesley United Church, where the lunch is hosted.
Every Thursday, Rachelle joins other folks from her community for lunch and conversation. She enjoys pitching in when she can, as she explains: “The thing I do there is hand out the sandwiches. I ask the people what kind of sandwich they like – tuna, egg salad, or ham and cheese.” Her favorite part of her connection to the Sharing Abundance lunch is that it gets her out of her house and meeting new people. She’s noticed a big sense of community there. “They care about me and see that I’m doing a good job.”
Rachelle reflects on how being connected to her community has allowed her to ‘break out of her shell’. A year ago, Rachelle didn’t know many folks in her neighborhood, despite having lived in the area for much of her adult life. Now, when she’s out and about in her community, people recognize and greet her. “I have a whole new perspective of me. I’ve been feeling good about myself because I know there are a lot of things I can do. I’ve overcome a hurdle.”
Once Rachelle became recognized as a regular at the community lunch, she started receiving invitations to other groups and activities. Rachelle now attends the church choir practice every Thursday evening, and the church service on Sundays – where she gets to share her beautiful voice with the congregation. It was a big moment for her when the choir gave her her own choir gown. Rachelle will share stories about choir members meeting her before practice and helping her up the stairs to the chapel, or giving her lifts home. Rachelle’s story illustrates the reciprocity of connection – and how sometimes all we need is a little help breaking out of our shells.