Just around the block

I’ve been residing in Whalley, Surrey for about 10 years now. I get the same expression everytime I tell someone where I live. They ask me, “Aren’t you afraid?”
Yes, Whalley does not have the best reputation as it’s known to be an area where the homeless & drug addicts often hang out. The only encounter I’ve had with a homeless person was when I was asked for spare change.
Last week our Miss BC, Tara Teng, contacted NightShift Street Ministries and organized it so that titleholders and contestants were able to volunteer. NightShift is an Christian organization founded about 6 years ago by  MaryAnne Connor (who was former Miss Teen Nova Scotia). They feed the homeless all year round, every single night.
When I looked up the address, I was surprised to find out it was just a block away from my house. How can it be that this organization served food every night around my block & I had not known anything about it? I was about to find out.
We had an orientation about the company’s history (which you could read more about here: http://www.nightshiftministries.org/)  and then we were put to work. It was  held in the parking lot in front of the building and by 7pm over 100 people were lined up to receive their dinner. I got the pleasure of being placed in the soup station. Dinner consisted of soup, hot dogs, variety  of sandwiches, beverages and dessert. It catered to everybody’s diet because they offered veggie choices as well. After dinner, there was also a Clothing Truck stationed where donated clothes were available should you need any.
During the course of the night, I had a chance to observe and chat with some of the people waiting in line. They are like you & me. They chat and joke with you and are honourable. If there is a line up for seconds and someone rushes in and says “First Timer,” the people would let them jump to the front of the line because they haven’t had a turn yet.
When the night was over, those who wished to clasped hands and joined in a circle for a prayer.
This was truly an eye opening experience because I really got to look in the faces of those who help make up the community of Whalley. We got a chance to talk with MaryAnne at the end of the night and when she shared her vision for her organization, it really wowed us. The ladies admired her for her generosity, courage and dedication to those who are less fortunate.  If you would like to volunteer your time or donate your clothing,  please visit their website for more details.
Take a look around your community, what’s just a block away from you?

Reach out.

Vanessa To
Miss Fraser Valley 2010

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