Lily Smit is a warrior – a prayer warrior, that is. And at 90 years old, she doesn’t plan on quitting anytime soon.
When visitors walk in the doors of the Streams of Hope Food Center, Lily is there to greet them with a warm smile and a slip of paper. Across the top of the paper are the words We all need prayer. Clients can choose to share a prayer request as they wait to shop for groceries, and Lily takes great joy in being able to pray for them.
“I love people,” says Lily. “I have a unique position at the food pantry. Streams of Hope not only meets the physical needs – the food needs – of people, but we’re also reaching out to the spiritual needs of people.”
It is this caring attitude that caused Lily to be awarded the Herman Snyder Kindness Matters Memorial Award for 2017. The memorial award is given in memory of current staff member Sandi Nicely’s late father, Herman Snyder, who demonstrated the virtue of kindness throughout his entire life as a husband, father, and WWII veteran.
The award recognizes a participant, client, donor, or volunteer at Streams of Hope who consistently demonstrates kindness. Noted on the award are words from Mark Twain – “Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
“This award was in memory of Mr. Herman Snyder – just to think, a man who promoted the characteristic of kindness – and really that is God-directed, because kindness is a fruit of the Spirit, and will live on forever. All of our volunteers show kindness and compassion and understanding,” Lily says.
As this year’s recipient, Lily was pleased that her award brings recognition to the many great programs at Streams of Hope.
“I don’t really want attention myself,” Lily says. “I just give God the glory and thank him for all the provisions for this ministry.”
Lily has lived in the Townline community for over two decades, and she loves being able to invest in it in tangible way. Many years ago, when her husband taught at South Christian High School, Lily started volunteering at the food pantry in their church, Covenant Christian Reformed. When Streams of Hope was founded, Lily adopted the new ministry as her own and continued to serve.
The new facility at SOH allowed the local pantry to expand and grow to better meet the needs of the community. And Lily has been faithfully present for years as clients come and go, helping to bear their burdens through the gift of prayer.
“I’m so grateful for the avenue of prayer – just knowing our heavenly Father hears our prayers. He calms our hearts,” says Lily.
“Many of the clients just pour out their hearts in their prayer requests. And there’s so many struggles and deep hurts. They talk about their health problems, anxiety issues, divorce, children in prison, drug addictions, death of a loved one, financial issues, no money, no food – and so I talk to them about that.”
The impact of Lily’s kindness is felt deeply within the Streams of Hope community.
“I have prayed with them, listened to them, cried with them, hugged them, and encouraged them to read a Bible and find a church,” shares Lily. At her urging, some of the clients take home Bibles and Christian devotionals that have been donated by local publishers. Clients are fed by the food at the pantry, the love of people like Lily, and the nourishment of God’s word all in one stop.
Lily says it like this: “When a client steps into the food pantry, they’re really showered with kindness until they leave.”
Thanks for your part in that, Lily.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities at Streams of Hope, click here.