You have to be good before you can do good

 Self-care helps Shepherds first employee celebrate 40 years of making a difference. 

Beatrice Aberfi has the distinct honour of being Shepherds of Good Hope employee number one. Her employee number is literally, 001.

It was 1983 when Beatrice visited St. Brigid’s Church, and saw people being fed by a group of volunteers. She filled out an application form and has worked at Shepherds ever since.


Beatrice during the early days at Shepherds of Good Hope!

“I thought I’d be here for a few months,” says Beatrice. It’s been forty years!

Forty years at one job is a milestone not many people can share. Your job must align with your personality and your beliefs.

“Where I came from, homeless is not a word we use very often,” says Beatrice. “In Canada, we have everything, but still, we have people who are homeless, who are on the street.”

Beatrice is driven to help.

When you talk with her, you’re drawn in by her calm demeanour, her openness, and her kindness. It’s those traits that give Beatrice the tools she needs to make a difference in the lives of others.

“Don’t judge,” says Beatrice, when asked about the people she supports. “You don’t know what happened to them. You don’t know what’s happening to them.”

“Give love. Take your time. Don’t jump to conclusions or you make a mistake. Have patience. Listen to what the person is saying.”

Working the evening shift in Shepherds supportive housing gives Beatrice the time to make those connections, to listen, to help without judgement.

She describes a simple moment.

“One of the residents gets her medication from me,” she says. “One day, she asked me to touch her hand.”

“So, I make sure, when I put it in her hand, I touch her hand, and I feel happy. And I think she feels happy.”

Beatrice knows that to be happy in her line of work, she must practice self-care.

“You have to be good before you can do good.”

“Take care of yourself, and then you can take care of others,” she says. “Don’t take anything personal. Be positive. Love them. They’ll love you back. Take good care of yourself first. Make sure the positiveness is there.”

Beatrice loves to garden. Her passion led to the creation of Hope Garden, which today is run and managed by team of twenty volunteers, who grow over 3,000 pounds of fresh vegetables for Shepherds every year.

“I thought we should start a garden,” she says. “Within two weeks, we had a garden.”

Looking back at her career with Shepherds, Beatrice is philosophical.

“Shepherds put me here to take care of people. Be nice to them, they’ll be nice to you. They’re human beings, just like you and I.”

Happy Anniversary Beatrice. Thank you for being a Shepherd! You really are Number One!