Class in session for RHA students at Lighthouse Mission

lass was in session for Rink Hockey Academy (RHA) student-athletes at Winnipeg’s Lighthouse Mission.

RHA had all four of its teams volunteering at Lighthouse Mission in December, serving breakfast and lunch to the less fortunate.

Aiden Brook, 16, of the Midget Prep team joined teammates to serve breakfast. The opportunity to meet kind people he spoke to provided an important lesson.

“People just give them a bad rep. Just the way they look,” says Brook. “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

What he gained is learning the importance of giving back.

“We need to do it and we learn all the stuff that people go through,” he says, especially seeing how the people served have varying dietary needs. “We have very good lives. We are set up pretty good. Some people don’t have it like that.”

Brook enjoyed interacting with those who came, adding that if the student-athletes treat those being served with respect and spoke to them nicely, they reciprocated.

Not only did Brook and his teammates serve breakfast, they collected food and clothes.

“It went really good,” he says. “We collected coats and mitts. We brought stuff from home that we weren’t using.”

Helping gave Brook a “special feeling that they are” not going to go hungry or cold wherever they are.

“They still have clothing around them to keep them a little bit warm,” he says.

Rob Smith, RHA coach, says the visit went very well and that Lighthouse Mission was very accommodating.

“It works well with our program. In terms of times, and we have partners that make it possible too that help us with transportation to get down there,” he says.

According to Smith, Lighthouse Mission (located in downtown Winnipeg) is a smaller mission. Their website states they serve an average of 210 breakfasts a day and 250 lunches. They have been helping the community since 1911 by providing food, friendship, hope, joy and love to those in need.

“They are trying very hard to provide for the community there,” says Smith. “They have a very large community of people. It seems like the right fit because we come in there with teams and just give them a boost at a busy time.”

Smith says many who visit Lighthouse Mission are used to seeing volunteers.

“Some of them don’t really bat an eye,” he says. “Kind of the cool thing that you see are some of the conversations that take place. People reaching out to talk to some of the players. You can find common ground. There were some really cool conversations.”

Some included talking about NHL hockey or the student-athletes’ seasons.

There’s a few reasons Smith says it’s important for the student-athletes to do this. It is important to give back. It opens a door and the teams believe service should be a big part of their program.

“It’s an attitude,” says Smith. “They are serving someone. We’re trying to give them an experience to serve somebody who is less fortunate. The benefits that come out of that, you hear a lot of students talk about how they feel good after they do it. It helps the people that you are serving, but it also helps you as a person.”

It’s also humbling for these student-athletes to see the needs of others.

“If you are living inside your own little bubble, you don’t always see that,” adds Smith, who wants the student-athletes to see something that upsets them a bit.

“It’s a very good education for our players as well, even myself,” says Smith. “The first time I did it I was playing university hockey. I went to a downtown mission in Winnipeg. I’m asking myself how this happens to people.”

Going through that experience was positive for Brook and his teammates and it’s something he wants to do again.

“That was awesome,” says Brook of serving food, as well as making donations. “Food is a major part. Giving clothing to homeless people. That would be something I’d want to do as well.”