An Attitude of Gratitude

Written by Jovanna Ruffalo (Social Media, Public Relations Extreme Team)

It was funny, when searching for a profile I envisioned featuring a family, a couple, I envisioned children and of course, they would be regular’s. George was none of these; in fact he was composed of every attribute but. At the age of 65 George stood before me and graciously joined me for a walk as he took me down what seemed like his own solitary journey with the Rainbow Kitchen.

“Connection” he said, when asked if he could describe what the Rainbow Kitchen has given him. Not a regular he admits when painting his relationship with the kitchen and the people in it. First introduced to the kitchen and its resources many moons ago, George takes me through his early greetings and all it has added to his humble life.

George describes himself as a very private man; a handful of friends, never was one for quantity over quality. One of his first visit’s to the Kitchen followed his recent move from Toronto to Victoria. Knowing no one, George had learned about the kitchen through a friendly companion at the local greyhound. The very one that would ultimately bring him to Victoria, his new home. George liked the sound of the kitchen and all it was set up to be but couldn’t help but worry about the idea of a large social setting, or “fitting in” if you will. Although the resource was designed to help and assist those in need George remembers feeling nervous. “I knew no one, I felt silly at the age I was to be nervous the way I was, like I was in grade school again”, George chuckled.

It was within that same week George would attend the kitchen for the first time. “What lovely people”, he smiled when taking me through that morning. I could tell that image was one that was not hard to unpack from his box of memories. He was greeted by numerous volunteers, Men, Children, Mother’s, quickly learning everyone had a story of their own, no two the same. “I found something beautiful about that”, He smiles. “There was never a question that went unanswered, everyone was so welcoming”. He recalls sitting at one of the first tables. There were 3 other gentlemen that shared the same table. They were later referred to as “the early birds”. George remembers exchanging smiles with everyone at the table. Quiet by nature, he didn’t do most of the talking, but that was ok. He felt at ease anyway. “I left that morning knowing Victoria was where I wanted to stay, that experience caught me at the right time when I really needed it the most”, he says.

Weeks went by, as have many. Some day’s George would gratefully revisit the kitchen, other’s something else was in store. George describes his everyday schedule as “on the fly” making his stops at the Kitchen not as regular as others. However, there was one thing that did become regular of Georges tale. “The three men sitting at the table” he smiles, “They are today my 3 closest friends here, we meet at the Tim Horton’s every Saturday, without fail and yes, I still don’t do most of the talking” he laughs.

“I am grateful for the stranger at the greyhound that told me to go to a special kitchen that day, for the lady that smiled at me while I stood outside the building wondering if I should really go in, the cooks for the countless delicious meals over the years and of course… for my 3 best mates”. I could tell by the look on his face that not only in this experience but through many George has chosen “An attitude of Gratitude”. “Connection, that is what it has given me”. He gratefully nods.

It became apparent with my short time with George that the Rainbow Kitchen was much more than a kitchen that serves meals. It has become a safe haven for many, in more ways than one. I felt privileged and humbled for that walk with George but also took away a comfort in knowing we were all, as a community, transforming a platform that has transformed so many lives and will continue to do so in the most unique and grand way. It is true what they say, there is no labour, like love and compassion…. just ask GeorgeJ

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