“When I was a stranger, you opened your doors.” (Mother Theresa)
In partnership with the Flamborough area churches’ outreach ministries, twice yearly the Carlisle United Church community opens its doors and hearts to host a festive dinner in honour of the migrant farm workers and nannies of our neighbourhood.
Over the years, these special events have evolved into evenings of fellowship and merriment as we welcome our migrant workers in the Spring and bid them farewell in the Fall.
The evenings usually start with a spirited game of football, which stimulates appetites for the delicious dinner, which follows. Our famous turkey dinner with all the trimmings plus delicious desserts is prepared and served by members of the congregation. We usually seat between eighty and one hundred guests.
After dinner, the fun continues as our guests, through the assistance of volunteer translators, compete or draw for prizes donated by the community and local businesses. These gifts typically include water bottles, insulated lunch bags, baseball caps,Nannies and kitchen helpers personal care items, treats and gift cards for local stores. There is often live entertainment in the form of music and vocals or even a display of native Mexican dancing.
To complete the evening, the workers are invited to “shop” at our free used clothing store where they can pick up work clothes and footwear for themselves, as well as toys and clothing to take home to their families.
In addition to the fun, several projects have allowed us to express our care for the health and welfare of our migrant workers:
- A collaborative project with the Hamilton and Burlington Fire departments provided the workers with first aid training, as well as equip them with splints, bandages and other items to assist them in dealing with at First aid training workshop for migrant workerswork emergencies. This complemented a course in CPR provided at the Community Church and provided by Hamilton EMS.
- A local Police department generously supplied twenty-five reflective vests to protect the workers as they walk and cycle on our roads.
- On several occasions, every guest took home a bag of dental care products, kindly provided by the Carlisle and other local dentists.
The migrant worker’s of our community are a critical element of our local economy. They perform a vital service in our local farms and nurseries and are the essential link between our farmers and the bountiful fruits and vegetables that we find in our store and supermarkets. The work of planting, tending and harvesting crops is physically demanding. The workers, who come mainly from Mexico, Jamaica, South America and the Philippines, welcome the opportunity to be pampered a little, to mingle and converse with community members and to talk about their homes, families and their lives in local fields and nurseries. Many are away from their homes for as long as eight months each year.
As a community, these special events allow us to befriend the migrants, to express our gratitude for their labours, to celebrate their presence among us and to care for their wellbeing. We frequently have over forty volunteers assisting with the event, evidence of the pride we take in this very worthwhile and rewarding ministry.
For the specific dates of upcoming events, see the Events Calendar.