Interview provided by Northside Rising, an Inspiring Communities nested initiative. Earlier in June, Lisa was recognized with one of the Dr. Strang Community Hero Awards for her work with the Caring Closet.
Tell me a little bit about yourself
My name is Lisa Bond and I started the Caring Closet at T.L. Sullivan School in Florence.
Originally, I was born and raised in North Sydney; however, “as my children got older I wanted them to have the opportunity to go to a smaller, more intimate school so we moved to Florence for a bit.”
Tell me a little bit about the caring closet?
It was the fall of 2018, I was around the school a lot supporting my young fella and it was just so glaring how many of the children were dealing with poverty. My children were packing extra lunches for their friends and I started asking myself – how can I help?
I reached out to the Vice Principal Michelle Stubbard and proposed the idea of The Caring Closet. The school simply gave me a room and free rein!
What are some of the things that people can access in the Caring Closet?
Anything really! And anything that is not there – I will find a way to get it. Everything from winter clothes, hygiene items, socks, sneakers…if a child needs it, we will find a way to get them access. We wanted to make sure that students had all the supplies they needed, as well as a free lunch.
The lunch program is my favorite because it’s the most used. Kids should never go hungry and many of them were. We also wanted to find a way to take the burden off of some of the parents, finding ways to support them as well. That’s one meal a day they don’t have to worry about. The Caring Closet is open for the whole family so if they need shampoo, soap, toothpaste, they can simply go grab it.
Originally, the lunch program offered money for the children to use the canteen at the school, however since COVID hit, I began to make pre-ordered and bagged lunches and delivered them along with any other necessities people need.
In a school of around 400 kids- we make and deliver around 350 lunches a week, about 50-60 a day ( as well as recess for anyone that needs it). That is a high level of need in such a small school.
What do you love about Cape Breton? What makes it special?
We are good people. Everyone comes together. Whenever I need anything, I simply have to put a call out on social media and within an hour someone will get ahold of me. People here want to help. Oftentimes they just don’t know what the need is.
You’re there or you’re not, and many times when people are there. They don’t want to speak out and ask for help. The Caring Closet acts as a go-between, oftentimes I am reaching out on behalf of 50-60 families because they don’t feel comfortable speaking for themselves.
What are your hopes for the Island? Why is that hope important to you/ the community?
I want people to know that someone cares, that their community cares. It’s not necessarily soap, clothes, or food, it’s knowing that someone is there to take care of them and wants to help. I want children to be able to go to school and for the 6-8 hours they are there they will be taken care of. I want them not to feel hopeless.
Rapid Fire Questions
(Adapted from Brene Brown Rapid Fire Questions)
Fill in the blank: Vulnerability is _______________
Depends on the circumstances – scary for sure
You’re called to do something brave, but your fear is real and stuck in your throat. What’s the first thing you do?
What is something that people often get wrong about you?
I curse a lot, so if you just have a conversation with me sometimes people get the wrong idea (laughs)
What’s the last show that you binged and loved?
What’s your favourite meal?
Give us a snapshot of an ordinary moment in your life that brings you great joy?
My oldest is learning how to drive. I love going for drives with him. He is forced to talk to me when we are doing 80 on the highway!
What is the one thing you’re deeply grateful for right now?
The community. their help with everything…it’s been a rough turn with school opening back up suddenly and people really stepped up.