by Laura Marie Piotrowicz
In one of our baptismal vows, we covenant with God and community to “respect the dignity of every human being.”
God hears this vow.
God invites us to live this vow.
Sometimes, God makes very clear a manner in which this vow can become a reality.
Stemming from a number of conversations (What are the needs of our community? How can we better engage with existing agencies?), the St. Catharines parishes of St. John, St. Columba and St. Barnabas discerned a call to a specific justice ministry. Local social services agency Start Me Up Niagara shared experience and expertise to connect with the most vulnerable in our community.
And Dignity Kits came into being.
A Dignity Kit is a small parcel of basic needs: shampoo, soap, deodorant, face cloth, razor and a clean pair of underwear. Depending on donations, we include lip balm, hand lotion and comb — the basics which help a person face the world with dignity.
Each parish collects the products, and every month a team of volunteers descends to St. Barnabas’ basement where a dedicated space is arranged for the sorting, assembling and storing of these kits. As they are needed, we hear from Start Me Up Niagara (or another agency), who collects the kits for distribution.
In mere months, more than 300 kits have been assembled and distributed.
This is not a snazzy ministry; it’s not the type of thing to land on the evening news. But it’s ministry that meets a need for the children of God in our communities.
While we recognise the need to work against the systems and structures that cause the vulnerable to be in such need, we also respond to that need as best we can — with kits of necessities and with dignity — as we promised.
The Reverend Laura Marie Piotrowicz is Rector of St. John’s Port Dalhousie St. Catharines.