Valerie Brunst may have passed away last year at the age of 77, but her gift to her church is ensuring her legacy will go on this Christmas — through Valerie’s Blessing.
Pastor Joel Holtz of Calvary Pentecostal Church in Lindsay says Brunst left her entire estate to the church — and now the church wants to find a way to “share some of this blessing with the community at large,” he says.
Brunst cut an eccentric figure, often seen on Hwy 36 about seven kilometres north of Lindsay in front of her house, hitchhiking for a ride into town.
Often it was to go to church where she had attended with her own parents, Wilfred and Annie Brunst, from the age of nine.
That’s why this year, on Sunday Dec. 8, the church is creating the first of what they envision as an annual event — free Christmas dinners for the community, to be known as Valerie’s Blessing.
There will be seatings at 4 pm, 5 pm, and 6 pm at the church (located at 125 Victoria Ave. N.)
“Valerie’s Blessing is something the other co-executor and I wanted to do with a portion of the funds in order to give back to the community in her name,” says Holtz.
He adds that her “seeing how she was so well known in our community, we wanted to give something back in her honour.”
If Brunst was not hitchhiking into town to go to church, then most often the other reason was to go to Giant Tiger – her favourite store where she loyally shopped. That’s why Holtz says that at the dinner “we are going to draw five $100 gift cards every hour from those attending the dinner.”
“We would invite people to write their name down for the draw at the dinner. We trust that most attending the free dinner would benefit from the gift cards and our goal is to simply be a blessing, and do it in Valerie’s name.”
Any donations received at the dinner will be sent to Kawartha Lakes Food Source.
While she didn’t have family to speak of, Holtz says she considered her drivers to be a part of her family, as she had devoted, regular people who would pick her up and take her to do her shopping.
“At her funeral I met many who had driven her and looked after her. Everyone seemed to have their own stories and moments with Valerie.”
Kim Taylor, who along with Holtz was co-executor of Brunst’s estate (and also secretary and treasurer at the church) says Brunst often came to church early, as she enjoyed listening to the worship team practice before service.
“She would sit at the back and comment that it sounded “like an angel choir,’” says Taylor.
Taylor also recalls her “uplifting comments” on how she looked or dressed.
“She was a keen observer, and noticed little things…I’m sure she did the same for so many more people over the years,” Taylor adds.
To attend one of the dinner seatings on Dec. 8 register here.