Never were truer words written about our late, beloved volunteer, Beth Bracken.
When you met her, you were immediately drawn to her. She possessed an authentic kind of joy, kindness, and compassion that was hard to miss, and easy to love. You never left a conversation without having some of that joy and light-heartedness rub off on you. She was ‘passing it forward’ without even knowing it.
We were fortunate enough to see this in action each week at OIM. Beth spent the better part of the last 15 years volunteering her time to help the lonely and the vulnerable in downtown Ottawa. Whether it was to serve up coffee and conversation at our old Office Stop-In, hand out groceries at our Door Outreach service, distribute much-needed sandwiches and socks on Street Outreach, sort and organize donations, or serve a delicious home-cooked meal during our holiday dinners, Beth touched the lives of so many across our city.
Every week, you could count on Beth to greet our street friends with a kind word and a warm smile. She went out of her way to ‘check in’ and see how someone was doing. She would remember the minute details of their last conversation. Details that others might have missed. “How did that appointment go?” or “How was your visit with your daughter?” or “I made your favourite: peanut butter and jelly.” Real conversations borne out of genuine interest and concern.
For the many street friends, staff, and volunteers who got to know our Beth, she became a faithful friend; someone you could pour your heart to without judgment. You could often find her in one-on-one conversation, lending an empathetic ear or praying for a person’s needs. She made it look so easy. But she was also fun to be around; funny, silly, and always full of endless energy.
She was that constant, caring presence within the OIM community; someone that we looked forward to seeing each week.
Beth was taken on April 12 as a result of a tragic accident near her home in Manotick. It is with much sadness that we say ‘good-bye’ to our friend and sister. We miss her terribly but take comfort knowing she has joined that great ‘cloud of witnesses’ and is, no doubt, cheering us on to finish the race ahead (Heb. 12:1-2).
See you at the finish line, my friend.
~Jelica, Senior Research & Grants Co-ordinator