Hanna Cain and educational assistant Ms. Kennedy work on the preparation of shepherd’s pie for Grassroots Kind Hearts.
The Grassroots Kind Hearts Society (GRKH), which feeds dinner downtown to those less fortunate within our community seven days per week, has received some support from a group who are usually the ones who receive it.
Robynne Fraser’s Skills For Life class at Timberline Secondary – a group of special needs students learning life skills like cooking – have been making some meals for the society lately, and they hope to continue doing so into the new year.
Brandi Stovman, who has a special needs child transitioning to Timberline this year, says it was an unexpected surprise that came out of conversations with Fraser earlier this school year during introductions and casual conversations about her son’s needs.
“I was wearing my GRKH sweater one day while we were talking, and she said, ‘what’s that about?’ so I told her who we are and what we do, and she came back to me a little while later and said, ‘I’d like to help.’
“I decided that I wanted to take some of our funding from the school board and use it for that,” Fraser says, “because I thought it would be a really great thing for these kids to be a part of.”
Her students have always done something to give back to the community around the holidays, Fraser says, and she’s seen the benefits of that in the looks on their faces.
“They really love doing it. Every time I say, ‘we’re going to cook for the people who don’t have enough,’ their eyes just light up and they get really excited to get into it and help out. So this is an opportunity, I hope, to go further than in previous years, and we’re hoping to keep this going throughout the year instead of just at Christmas time,” Fraser says.
The first batch of food they made this semester for GRKH was a huge pot of chilli, and they followed that up with a couple of massive pans of shepherd’s pie.
“And we’ll be making some turkey soup and some ham soup and getting that to them as well,” Fraser says.
“It’s nice to be making food for people so they can get to eat and not starve – while we learn to cook,” says student Hannah Cain with a huge smile. “And it shows people how to work together.”
And working together is what it’s all about, Stovman says.
“We have to work together, as a community, if we’re going to grow and get better. And part of that is about accepting one another as equals, whether you’re a special needs child, or someone who is struggling without a place to live, or the CEO of some corporation. It’s about treating others – everyone – as you’d like to be treated.”
And GRKH certainly appreciates the support, wherever they can get it.
“We just can’t keep relying on our volunteers alone,” says Suzanne Lagasse-Taylor, GRKH volunteer who was at Timberline collecting the shepherd’s pie being donated by the class. “It wears them down eventually, and we’ve see that actually happen, so it’s really nice for people like these lovely students who will make the effort to help us out.”
Cher Stevens, who also volunteers with GRKH, agrees.
“It really is incredibly helpful to have them making the major part of a meal that we serve down there. It not only helps us out by supplying the food, but also makes it so we don’t have to be cooking – it’s a lot of work to cook for 30 or more people every day, seven days a week. It’s a huge thing for someone to supply food like this that we can just heat up and serve,” Stevens says.
And for that support to come from a group of special needs children within the public school system is especially heartwarming for Stovman.
“It’s a glorious way of giving back to the community, and to see these special needs students doing something like this out of the kindness of their hearts and sharing their love with people they don’t even know, well, it touches my heart,” she said. “There are a lot of people who just don’t help out, but these kids, they just want the world to be a better place and know that they can help make it that way.”
Anyone interested in supporting Fraser’s Skills For Life class can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and those who would like to know more about what GRKH is doing within the community can join their Facebook page or go to grassrootskindhearts.org
Monica Hackett helps prepare the shepherd’s pie that was recently donated by the Timberline Secondary Skills For Life class for Grassroots Kind Hearts.