Jessica is a third-generation Shepherds of Good Hope volunteer. Watch the video below to see how she and her mom Kim are giving back this Thanksgiving!
Growing up, Jessica’s family focused on doing what they could to help out their community. When her grandparents first started volunteering at Shepherds of Good Hope with their church group, it came as a bit of a surprise.
“Soon though, they were calling us up after each of their shifts in the Community Kitchen, sharing stories of their experiences that day. I was always fascinated by these stories.”
At age 12, when her grandmother suggested she join them to help get her high school community service hours, she jumped at the opportunity, and her mom Kim came too.
Jessica was pretty nervous her first shift in the kitchen.
But the staff quickly helped her feel at ease and set her up making sandwiches and preparing food.
“What I didn’t realize that first day was just how much I would come to love and appreciate this community, and how our volunteering would bring us closer as a family.”
For five years, they all volunteered as a family. When COVID hit, Jessica’s grandparents stopped volunteering to protect their health and for a time, Kim and Jessica did, too. But they soon realized how much they missed volunteering, and stepped up to ask how they could help.
Volunteering during COVID was different.
“We could only serve about half the number of people at a time that we used to, and couldn’t sit and chat with the people who came in, which I used to really enjoy.”
Sometimes there were outbreaks of COVID in the shelter and all the food had to go over to the shelter building on carts, because people were isolating. There were hard days, but Jessica and Kim knew what they were doing was important.
“Volunteering helped us to get through the pandemic, just as much as we were helping others.”
This fall, Jessica is headed for Carleton University. Her time working in the kitchen helped her realize her passion for helping people and she is now pursuing a career in social work. She plans to continue to volunteer with her mom at Shepherds.
Shepherds of Good Hope runs on the passion of people like Jessica and her family. This Thanksgiving, please donate what you can to give people experiencing homelessness in our community a brighter future.