A Father’s Day Gift – Time Together in Service of Others

One of the best gifts a father can receive is to watch their child grow in service of others.

For Shepherds of Good Hope volunteers Bob and Muriel Richards, that gift has come every day since their son Gordon started volunteering as a co-op student at Shepherds in 2012.

After finishing his co-op placement, Gordon knew he wanted to work in a field where he could continue to make a difference.

In 2014, he chose to join Shepherds of Good Hope as a frontline employee.

“I started working at the shelter downtown, just as Shepherds was opening a supportive housing residence, Hope Living in Kanata,” says Gordon. “When my placement finished at the Shelter, my supervisors, Lindy, Meara and Keith – who all still work here – suggested I work at Hope Living to help people transition into their new supportive home.”

Today, one hundred seniors who experienced homelessness are living with around the clock support and thriving in the welcoming community of Kanata.

Three generations of the Richards family, enjoying their time together.

A Proud Father.

“I’m incredibly proud of Gordon,” says Bob. “I’m proud that he’s working with people who really need help. He’s not ‘fixing’ them or telling them what to do. He’s going on the journey with them.”

Bob recalls a time when Gordon’s aunt and uncle were in town, curious to see where Gordon worked, which, at the time was at the shelter.

During the tour, one of the people using Shepherds services found out that the tour group included Gordon’s father, turned to Bob and said; “You’ve got one heck of a son there.

Eleven years later, that story still brings a smile to Bob’s face.

Born in Nairobi, Kenya, where Bob was working as an economist, Gordon was introduced to the value of volunteering at an early age.

“When my mom was in Africa she was volunteering with youth. Helping them with literacy and reading,” says Gordon. “Volunteering and helping others have always been there. I’ve never consciously thought of it. It has just been like ‘well, this is what you do, you volunteer’.

Mom and Dad Begin Volunteering at Shepherds of Good Hope.

“I am also very proud of what Gordon is doing,” says Muriel. “I was wondering what I could do, as I’m heading towards retirement, on a volunteer basis that would support Gordon’s work and support his clients. Gordon suggested Hope Living. So I became a volunteer.”

“I would go over at dinner time, and just sit with residents at the table. I would ask them about their story, which they would happily share.”

Soon after, Bob also started volunteering at Hope Living. Together, Bob and Muriel recruited members of their church group, and their Masters Swim Club. Today, people they introduced to Shepherds of Good Hope are still volunteering, thanks to Bob, Muriel and Gordon.

A Father’s Day Gift of Time.

When asked what gift he would like for Father’s Day, Bob is quick to answer; more time with his two sons and four grandchildren.

“We just spent two weeks in Halifax with our son Michael and his two children, and the weekend before we left, we were in Gordon’s backyard with his wife and their two children.”

“I love my children greatly,” says Bob.

Working so closely as a volunteer and colleague of Gordon is time both Bob and Muriel cherish.

Seeing, first-hand, the effect Gordon’s career has on so many people gives Bob and Muriel great joy. The example they set is being carried forward by their son.

“It’s about helping others. It’s about loving your neighbor as you would yourself. That’s all it is. It’s simple. If we did this more often it would be a better world.”

Gordon echoes his father’s point.

“Working with, and for your community have been something Mom and Dad have always done,” he says, setting a new example for his own young children.

The community is a better place for people experiencing homelessness in Ottawa thanks to Bob, Muriel, and their son Gordon.

It’s the perfect gift. Happy Father’s Day! Interested in volunteering at Shepherds of Good Hope?

Click here to visit our Volunteer page.