Community Meal Story

In my role as Community Librarian for Vancouver’s northwest neighbourhoods, it has been my pleasure to attend several Community Meals at St. Mary’s Kerrisdale during the past year. Part of my “representing the library in the community” entails helping people obtain library cards and assisting existing patrons with issues such as overdue fines and lost items.

Although I certainly enjoy meeting members of the community at St. Mary’s, several of whom are patrons of my home branch, Kitsilano, I especially like reconnecting with the many volunteers who make the meal a reality each week. St. Mary’s impresses me with its loving and committed community-minded meal crew!

I also try to bring articles of used clothing with me during my visits; donations from members of my co-op. These usually “fly off the rack” at the Community Meal and it pleases me to see clothing recycled and shared as well as books.

We were pleasantly surprised at the quantity and quality of the month’s donations and were quickly surrounded by the curious. One woman named Lorraine found that many items were a perfect fit and style. She was thrilled with her “finds,” saying that “Santa has arrived early!” and that she normally could never afford such great items. She repeatedly asked me to tell the members of my co-op how grateful she was to receive this gift of a new wardrobe.

Later, whilst I was serving coffee, tea, and milk, Lorraine approached me to thank me and the members of my co-op once yet again and passed me a note written on a serviette to give to the member of my co-op whom I suspect donated the “gifts” that she received.

When I conveyed Lorraine’s expression of gratitude, I received this email reply from my neighbour:

Hi Michael,

Thank you for the lovely note. I am an avid second-hand shopper and fashion addict. I am delighted these items were useful to others. Having this bin in our building makes it very easy to give. Kudos to you for being such an engaged Community Librarian!

Ann Marie

It is moments like this – facilitating simple human connections – that make my job such a joy.

Thanks again to the St. Mary’s community for welcoming me to their Community Meals – they are the highlight of my monthly “to-do” calendar.

Michael McCarthy
Community Librarian | Northwest Area
Vancouver Public Library