Coffee, Conversation and Compassion

Florence Booth
by June Li
Categories: Divisional News

Last month, our Annual Giving Coordinator, Delicia Carvery visited The Salvation Army’s Florence Booth House, a 64-bed emergency women’s shelter located in Downtown Toronto. As she made her way down to the shelter, Delicia noticed a young woman in distress. What she did next showed that kindness and compassion come in many different forms. Read her reflections on her experience down below.

It was Valentine’s Day 2018 and I had a scheduled tour of The Salvation Army’s Florence Booth House. Arriving early, I decided to have breakfast across the street from the Florence Booth House.  In the near distance, I heard someone shouting, screaming and crying. I thought to myself, who could be arguing so early in the morning on Valentine’s Day?

I decided to get up and investigate. When I walked outside, I saw a young woman sitting on the steps of Florence Booth screaming, shouting and crying. To my surprise, many were walking by and going about their day. I stood there and asked, “God, what do you want me to do?” I called Florence Booth to see if I could find more information and was advised that the young woman, ‘Anne’ had mental health issues that caused her to vent out loud.

After the call, I approached Anne and asked if she would like to join me for breakfast, she nodded and agreed to have coffee.  Once inside the coffee shop, we chatted and Anne shared her story.  For two months she had stayed at the shelter, she has a younger brother and sister that she has not seen for a long time, completed an English course at George Brown and would like to get a telemarketing job.

I was amazed that a person so young, with a beautiful smile; smart and articulate could be living on the streets of Toronto. My colleague arrived and I introduced her to Anne. As our time for our tour approached, we stood up and wished each other a Happy Valentine’s Day and my colleague gave Anne a big hug. There were smiles all around.

Looking back at my experience, I am thankful that being at The Salvation Army gave me the opportunity to meet this young woman. I was reminded that for those experiencing homelessness, isolation can be one of the most difficult parts. Whether it is a listening ear or a conversation between a shared meal, working at The Salvation Army allowed me to reach out and recognize that sharing a gesture of kindness goes a long way.