By Jen Kazda.
As a new member of L’Arche Greater Vancouver working as Director of Day Programs, I have had the privilege of getting to know a bunch of wonderful and amazing people. Part of my learning curve took me away from my desk one Monday morning and on the road with Kevin and Wayne.
Kevin and Wayne have known each other for about a year. Kevin came to L’Arche Greater Vancouver originally as a live-in assistant at Creation House, where Wayne lives. They got to know each other well and developed a good friendship. After a few months Kevin took on another role at L’Arche and was no longer a live-in assistant. Now, rather than being house-mates, they volunteer together in the wider community, bringing the message of L’Arche to unexpected audiences and places.
This is where I got to tag along.
After completing the daily vehicle inspection with a honk of the horn to make sure it works, the three of us were on our way to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore located in Burnaby. Wayne has been volunteering with Habitat for Humanity for three years now and it shows. He walks into the story with confidence as he starts his day, receiving warm greetings from the staff who work there. The smiles on their faces and the enthusiasm in their hello reveal to me that Wayne is a valuable part of their team.
In the main part of the store, full of all sorts of odd and ends for sale, I am introduced to Al, the store manager. He tells me how much everyone in the store enjoys Wayne’s help and how impressed he is with how Kevin and Wayne work together. Al is a rough and scruff kind of guy and the store is a rough and scruff kind of place, yet there is a real soft spot for Wayne and the contribution he makes helping out, cleaning up and welcoming customers.
After we drop off our lunches in the staff room and have a cup of tea to warm us up, we head back downstairs to start our duties. Wayne gets the broom and work gloves and Kevin gets the dust pan. They start by sweeping the front entrance, taking the floor mat out and dusting it off. All the while people are calling to Wayne by name, “Hey Wayne, good to see you. Nice hat, is it new?” For those who know Wayne, know Wayne has an insatiable love for Baseball caps. This particular customer noticing Wayne’s hat and calling him by names brings to light that people here have gotten to know Wayne and appreciate him.
I am touched at how significant it is to know that pairs like Kevin and Wayne working together out in our wider community really makes a difference. It reveals the gifts of people with disabilities, it reveals the mutuality of relationships and it helps to foster new friendships.