If you hear the name “Helping Hands Street Mission”, who do you think of as having the “helping hands”? You’d be partly right if you say that it is a place where people with privilege use their hands to help those with less. Helping hands help those who need help. But at Helping Hands we know that in reality everyone needs “help”, and everyone has “hands”. Everyone has something to contribute and is needed in community.

The Helping Hands Street Mission community is full of people offering helping hands to others. In celebration of Earth Week last month, that was exemplified as many of our community members put their hands together to clean up the neighbourhood. Together, the Helping Hands Street Mission community cleaned up more than 10 large bags full of garbage.

Over the past month, we have seen many more examples of helping hands at work. In official volunteer capacity, many people have been involved in all kinds of service opportunities, from donation sorting, supply pick up, soup and snack preparation all the way to time spent serving in the store and cafe or other programming. However, in small and big ways, our community is caring for each other, offering helping hands with love and respect:

1. A Helping Hands friend assisted another friend with grocery money when things were especially tight
2. A neighbour allowed others to use their washroom when there wasn’t another option available
3. A friend brought some rice to help someone dry out their phone
4. A friend made a recipe book for one of our student interns
5. A few community members brought brownies to thank one of our student interns for their work at Helping Hands
6. A friend bought clocks for our program room and cafe space
7. A community member cleaned up a big spill in our program space when staff didn’t have the capacity to clean up
8. A friend helped to deal with an overflow of water on the street in front of our building, so that people wouldn’t get splashed while connecting out front
9. A friend picked up personal hygiene items for a community member with accessibility issues
10. A community member brought a game for our Friday night board game cafe
11. A friend keeps our cafe stocked with honey as a natural sugar alternative
12. A community member taught a friend how to bead, and brought the supplies
13. A friend stayed close by when another friend was upset with a staff member, to ensure safety for the staff member
14. An increasing number of Helping Hands friends are going through our volunteer application and training process, to become “official” volunteers.

Mister Rogers, a well known American TV host from Mister Roger’s Neighbourhood, had many great things to say about caring for each other in community. We think he would have loved to see what is going on at Helping Hands Street Mission. One of his many quotes goes something like this: “All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors—in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.” We all have hands that can be used both for giving and receiving. We celebrate that Helping Hands Street Mission is a place where everyone knows they are valuable and are needed in community – and we celebrate all the helping hands that make up our community.

How can you become a Helping Hand? Firstly, you can simply look around you to see what you can do for your neighbours with the capacity you have.

Next, you can choose to support your neighbourhood through Helping Hands Street Mission by donating to our financial (operating) needs on our website at www.hhsmhamilton.com, or drop off your clean, gently used clothing, shoes and bedding to stock our free store. We also gladly accept new underwear and personal hygiene items. We are also looking for volunteers to help us facilitate friendship-based support through our free café, store and programs, And everyone is welcome to just drop by to hang out on a Friday evening at our Board Game Café that is open for the whole community to engage together.

Beyond that, there is so much more you can do in our neighbourhood: you can stop by regularly at 541 Eatery & Exchange for a delicious breakfast or lunch, and buy a few buttons to “pay-it-forward” for your neighbours with less; and you can stay tuned and participate in many other organized events happening regularly in our neighbourhood.

We look forward to being “helping hands” together with you all!