Kindred's Mary Martin on a mission in Jamaica
Jun 08, 2023

Mary Martin’s Mission Trip to Jamaica

In March of this year, Mary Martin, a Financial Services Representative at Kindred’s Elmira branch, spent a week serving those in need in Kingston, Jamaica. She has kindly agreed to share her story, in the hopes that it will encourage others to look for ways to serve others and inspire peaceful, just, and prosperous communities around the world.

Mary’s story actually begins with her Mom, Laura Hergott. Laura had always wanted to do overseas missionary work, but her husband wasn’t too keen. After he passed away, Laura was determined to make this dream a reality and connected with Missionaries of the Poor, a Roman Catholic charity located in Kingston, Jamaica. She heard about it through Holy Family Church, the parish she attends in Hanover. Mary decided to travel with her Mom, so that she wouldn’t have to travel alone.

Before leaving for the trip, Mary and Laura fundraised for their trip and gathered items that were in short supply in Kingston. They filled 3 suitcases with medical supplies, baby items, and other needed supplies, that they could leave behind.

They were greeted by Brother Emmanuel when they arrived on a Friday, and headed to the monastery where they would stay. The other brothers were out at their various placements – one of the 7 houses throughout Kingston that house the disabled, homeless, and orphaned for whom the brothers provide care. The brothers keep a strict schedule beginning with a morning prayer service at the crack of dawn, and live an austere existence with few possessions.

Initially consisting of only four members and known as “the Brothers of the Poor” when they were founded in 1981, their work was approved by the bishop of Kingston and the name changed to the “Missionaries of the Poor”. The brothers began their work in a government-run house for the homeless, destitute, orphaned, and aged, where they succeeded in opening the consciousness of the public to the needs and struggles of the poor. They continued their work with prisoners, where they helped to bring to light the need for rehabilitation among prisoners, not mere isolation. The community thus began with two successful projects in its early years. Since its founding, the Missionaries of the Poor have received approval from both the Bishop and the Pope for their work. Today, the order has over 550 brothers serving in nine missions around the world.

Mary and Laura’s trip occurred during Lent, a season of solemn religious observance lasting the 40 days before Good Friday, and is marked by fasting, prayers, and alms giving. Needless to say, life at the monastery was quiet! Some of the homes are staffed by sisters, including a home for elderly and disabled women.

Mary and Laura’s week of volunteering truly began on Saturday morning, when they went to their first placement at a home that cared for disabled children. The children were so happy to meet their new visitors. Later that day, they visited a home for disabled adults. They enjoyed time singing, dancing, and visiting with the residents. Then they had lunch together, assisting any residents who needed help.

On Sunday, they attended church at the children’s home, sitting among the children they were serving. Laura did the first reading that morning, which she found very meaningful. The residents of the surrounding neighbourhood bring what they can to offer to the brothers and sisters, giving money or food to the mission. The mission relies heavily on the goodwill of these neighbours.

Throughout their time with the Missionaries of the Poor, Mary and her Mom enjoyed spending time with the residents of the homes. They also assisted with feeding residents, folding laundry, and trimming nails. The day that Mary and Laura painted the nails of some of the disabled women was “a day we’ll never forget,” according to Mary. The ladies were so thrilled to have the extra care and attention!

Mary and Laura were sad to leave at the end of the week. Mary still keeps in touch with a couple of the brothers through text. In fact, the brothers have asked her to come back to cook for them! Mary and Laura agree that the experience with Missionaries of the Poor was unforgettable and humbling. They hope to return and continue the work they began this year. And they encourage anyone who is interested in serving in this way to do it!

One of the central objectives of the brothers and sisters is the building of a sense of community among the poor – and to build relationships with the wider community, including those from the other parts of the world! We, at Kindred, are so thankful for our staff members and their families, who share their gifts and inspire others through stories like this.

Jessica Sproat

Jessica Sproat

Community Engagement Manager Jessica is a corporate social responsibility enthusiast with a passion for collaborating with non-for-profit groups. She’s passionate about helping connect colleagues with opportunities to support their communities through volunteerism and sponsorships.