[There's a place in my neighbourhood called Mitchell House. It provides transitional, semi-independent residence, for young men aged 16-21. Graham Kelly is the manager of Mitchell House, part of the Threshold Housing Society. This is his story. I first read Graham's story in my neighbourhood's monthly newsletter, dropped off at my door this week. I loved it. If you're Canadian I hope you had a good Thanksgiving last month. And, if your home is the United States, may yours be bountiful, too.]
A THANKSGIVING STORY
Right after Thanksgiving weekend, during the youth check-in portion of our weekly house meeting, I asked Mitchell House residents what they’d done on the holiday. Our newest resi-dent, who’d been with us for about a month, said he’d gone to a dinner, and so I asked where. He gestured across the street, and said; with the people over there. I was a little perplexed, as the young man moved into Victoria from some distance away, and knows very few people in the whole city, let alone the neighborhood. The people we helped with the BBQ, he added. They asked me in for dinner.
I realized he was talking about the people who organized a re-cent community BBQ, who live in the house almost kitty-corner to our youth home. They’d requested set-up and break-down assistance from our guys for the event, which took place two weeks earlier and drew dozens of residents to Redfern Park for hot dogs and home-made pie. You mean you were walking by, and they just asked you in? Yeah. They said to come on in and have dinner with them. It was pretty fun.
For me, this was significant on a couple of different levels. For one thing, many of the youth we support have little – if any – family contact, and holiday feast times can be reminders of their lack of community connection. For another thing, here was a teenager of First Nations heritage – very kind and peace-ful, but with a football-player’s build, who might elsewhere be looked upon with suspicion or fear, being welcomed into a near-stranger’s house for dinner. To me this reflects the best of what a small housing organization like ours can bring into the lives of otherwise alienated and isolated youth: Finding warmth, trust, belonging, and yes, a good meal, just a block away from home.
This certainly reminds us how much we, the residents of Mitchell House, have to be grateful for. Thank you South Jubilee!
Thank you Graham! I’m glad we’re in the same neighbourhood. I first met Graham through the Victoria Restorative Justice community. He is a generous soul.
For more stories about my neighbourhood, read these past posts.
Photo credit: Sean Dreilinger (Flickr)�