The Sarnia Journal has partnered with local photographer Art Connolly to feature his captivating “Humans of Sarnia” series as he delves into the lives and experiences of everyday people in Sarnia. Follow his series on Instagram and Facebook
“They all matter."
By Art Connolly
Lyndsay Kitto and Cassandra Noel, both proud Sarnia locals, share a unique and heartwarming story of friendship.
Despite growing up just a city block apart in the same neighbourhood, they didn't cross paths until two years ago. Since their chance meeting, they've become the best of friends, and their bond is evident to anyone who spends time with them.
Lyndsay and Cassandra exude a down-to-earth charm and possess finely tuned senses of humour, each with a hearty laugh that adds joy to their connection.
One of their favourite pastimes is watching the mesmerizing sunsets over Lake Huron. They often sit together along the river or the lake, cherishing each other's companionship as the sun bids its daily farewell.
During one such sunset, an idea sparked between them. They recognized that there are homeless individuals in Sarnia facing the challenges of "living rough" and in need of assistance.
Lyndsay, a dedicated driver with Voyago Inter-Community Bus, has witnessed the struggles of the homeless during her work, which deeply touched her heart. Cassandra, with a background in law enforcement and first aid, frequents Centennial Park, where she encounters people who are experiencing homelessness or less fortunate. Cassandra firmly believes that as a community, we need to collectively raise our consciousness to embrace love for all, regardless of their status.
Taking it upon themselves to make a difference, Lyndsay and Cassandra embarked on a mission to create care packages for the homeless on Sarnia's streets. These thoughtful packages included sandwiches, juice boxes, new hats and mittens, hand warmers, and tea biscuits. They spent a day purchasing the items and assembling the bags, resulting in 26 sandwiches.
Distributing these bags was a profound and eye-opening experience for Lyndsay and Cassandra. They discovered various locations around the city where people were living in discreet, less visible places. Amidst the hardships they witnessed, there was a remarkable sense of community among these individuals. They looked out for one another, spreading the word when Lyndsay and Cassandra distributed bags so that others could receive them as well.
The recipients' appreciation for the bags and their contents deeply impressed Lyndsay and Cassandra. The bags were opened immediately, hats and gloves put on, and sandwiches devoured. At one point, someone who received a bag even offered half of their sandwich to the two kind-hearted friends. Another person was so touched that they asked in disbelief, "This is for me!?"
Lyndsay and Cassandra encountered a diverse range of individuals that day, spanning from early 20s to senior citizens. Each person they met was appreciative, polite, and eager to engage in conversation. They spoke of the challenges they faced in street life, with some First Nations people sharing stories about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). These encounters left a lasting impact on both women, inspiring them to continue their compassionate mission.
Lyndsay and Cassandra want to remind us all that everyone deserves to be loved and valued. "They all matter," they emphasize, highlighting the importance of recognizing the humanity in each individual.
When asked if they plan to continue handing out bags in the future, Lyndsay and Cassandra expressed their hope to distribute hot soup during their next outreach. They've received numerous messages and emails from people wanting to donate money, but their hope is that others may also consider taking action and showing Sarnia's homeless population that they are not forgotten.
As they aptly put it, "They all matter!"
“Humans of Sarnia” founder Art Connolly is a man fuelled by curiosity and a passion for connecting with people in Sarnia. Inspired by the renowned “Humans of New York” series, with a camera in hand, he captures the very essence of the individuals he encounters, preserving their stories through his lens.