In January when my husband and I arranged to volunteer at the Seafarer's Centre in Montreal we were looking for a service opportunity that could involve all the ages in our family. Quite often service trips are set up for youth only or adults only, and we were hoping that we could do something memorable all together.
The Seafarer's Centre agreed to take us and provided us with a one-bedroom apartment for the duration of our stay. Since our volunteer work takes place during the evenings, we have adjusted our regular meal times and bed times this week. Yet all of this allows us to be together, and each one can contribute uniquely.
Most of the people who come to the Seafarer's Centre are men who are in the Port of Montreal for as little as three days to unload and reload cargo. It is a place to relax and get off the ship. Last night, what was special was that there was a whole family (father, mother, daughter and son) from India that came to the centre. What a joy it was for me to see my daughters interacting with the children, who spoke very good English! Part of our shift last night the place was completely empty and we may have wondered what we were doing that had any value. However, being ready and available made it possible to positively touch the twelve people who did pass through. Just by being there, we were told, we are also an encouragement to the regular staff.
Most of those who come to volunteer at the Seafarer's Centre from out-of-province are seniors, so coming as a family with children stands out. Maybe someone else out there will be inspired to take a family service trip or seek out volunteer work that embraces a whole family.
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