She may not be Santa Claus, but to the teens at Roots for Youth House, Lynn Henderson is a step up — a guardian angel.
Although a frequent volunteer for the organization, one of the bigger things that Henderson does for the youth is prepares Christmas dinner.
Each year during the holidays, Henderson arrives at the house and stays with the youth and cooks a big Christmas brunch as well as a Christmas dinner.
“Last year was my first year,” said Henderson.
It all began a number of years ago when she heard on the radio that the organization was looking for volunteers. After applying and being accepted, Henderson has been cooking dinner for the youth during holidays like Easter and Christmas and Thanksgiving as well as offering her services as a hairstylist to those who come into the house in need of a haircut.
After struggling with depression, Henderson admits that the volunteering started as not only a way to help the kids but herself as well.
“I did it to help myself get used to going out of the house,” she said. “I do it because I want to help people.”
Henderson, who is single, doesn’t mind spending her holidays with the youth at Roots House as she can identify with the struggles some have gone through. When she was 15, her father passed away from cancer and to her, Christmas hasn’t quite been the same without him. Without some loved ones around you, Christmas can be a hard time of year, she said.
“It’s not just a Christmas thing,” said Henderson. “During the storm day we had, none of the staff could get in (town to the house) so I walked there.”
Henderson said she really enjoys the atmosphere that is at the house, one that gives off a sense of home for those who need somewhere to belong.
“It’s just like a family atmosphere, we just try to give them something special,” she said. “No teenager or adolescent should have the worries that an adult has.”
Henderson is not the only one who regularly gives her time on holidays though.
Debi Wadden and her husband Don have been helping out with the Christmas dinner at St. George’s Anglican Church in New Glasgow for years. Their Christmas dinner is enjoyed at St. George’s.
“Our family Christmas dinner is on Boxing Day, but that is our Christmas.” she said. “We cook about six turkeys that weigh 25 t o 30 pounds and prepare to serve 200 people, including our volunteers. We’re getting lots of volunteers and donations this year. It’s been excellent.”