Many of us feel as though we are called toward something that gives our lives meaning. Of these callings, servitude is among the most noble. In the Breakthrough network, where people and community are organizational pillars, there are few who exhibit the heart of a servant quite like Rosamund Benjamin, or Ms. Rozy as she’s affectionately known.

BACKGROUND

Rozy hails from a small Caribbean island in the West Indies called Dominica. Her beautiful home country has a great deal of breathtaking mountains and lush forests, but it is also home to a number public and social issues usually exacerbated in small, underdeveloped countries.

For 15 years, Rozy worked as a civil servant in Dominica’s government. She says God has always laid it on her heart to be active in helping those around her. When her family, a husband and two-year-old son, decided to move to the States to find more gainful opportunities, she thought she would lose her usefulness to those she called community.

She would soon find out that America, a country with access to so many resources, doesn’t have quite enough for everyone to thrive either. She would find that there are people here in this great country that needed help too.

It took time, but Rozy opened up to the new community around her. She began an on-the-street ministry called Reach Out and Touch, which supplied water and snacks to those suffering from the sweltering Houston summer.

“In that space of time, I saw people from the roadside that would come and share their issues. We’d pray for them and it was so beautiful listening to testimonies. People advanced from living on the street and only owning a shirt or two to living in their own apartment. It was a great thing that I loved doing.”

After finally settling into her life in Houston, Rozy was called to Chicago at the end of 2014. Her son moved to the West Side and he told her about how she can be a blessing to the many families being affected by poverty and violence. One day, a woman at a church Rozy was frequenting handed her a flyer about a volunteer opportunity. The flyer was promoting the grand opening of the Breakthrough FamilyPlex in nearby East Garfield Park.

FINDING HOME & HEALING

Before the woman could finish her request, Rozy knew that was the opportunity she was looking for. That was the moment Rozy says she had a revelation.

“I went that day and volunteered,” she said. “And let me tell you, from that day, I knew that was my breakthrough. I brought a mug and keep the Breakthrough program on my shelf to remind me that was the day God gave me my breakthrough for my purpose in Chicago.”

After her initial day of service, Rozy became more and more ingrained in the Breakthrough community. Rozy started regularly volunteering at the Men’s Center in the kitchen with a friend. After a while, that friend stopped coming but Rozy remained despite a decline in her health.

When her body allowed, Rozy would spend as much time pitching around Breakthrough as possible. Sometimes, she’d come in to volunteer three to four times a week, and picked up dropped shifts from others. As she healed, she increased her time volunteering, because that’s what she said she was brought here to do.

It didn’t take long for the staff to grow fond of Ms. Rozy. Breakthrough Food Service Coordinator Sherry Lin said Rozy had a special anointing on her.

“I think she just demonstrated a servant’s heart. And honestly, from the get-go, that’s what she exemplified,” she said. “From her telling me, it seems like a personal journey for her as she’s seeking physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing that she’s coming alongside some of the guests at Breakthrough as well.”

Even though she was new to Breakthrough, Rozy felt right at home opening up her heart for others so that they could heal together.  When Adult Support Network Coordinator Teresa McHenry first met Rozy, she said she needed a stranger to talk to.

“When Rozy first got here, she was working in the kitchen and I was having some problems. I wanted to talk to someone who didn’t know me,” McHenry said. “Rozy and I talked, we prayed, we laughed … and then we talked, we prayed and we laughed. That’s how I got to know her.”


SERVING IN COMMUNITY

Rozy, referred to by staff as the most humble person they know, refused to stay static in her role at Breakthrough. When clothing donations began to pile in the Men’s Center, McHenry and her staff saw Rozy as the perfect person to manage the situation and she accepted.

“The whole thing about it is making [the clothes closet] feel like a place where they can come in and go ‘wow,’” she said. “Just because you come from a bad situation doesn’t mean that you deserve stinking shoes or a hot, dirty shirt… Who knows where we’ll be, God says to help the downtrodden and to lift the poor. The whole idea is to do what Jesus did when he was here.

Rozy’s culinary ability drew even more people closer to her. While some people enjoyed conversations  standing in line for some of her famous chicken curry dishes, others peaked over her shoulder to learn which spices and herbs she used to make the chicken so juicy.

For Rozy, Breakthrough wasn’t just an outlet to help others, but a way to grow and heal with the community she’s grown to love.

“This is just the stepping stone from what I did,” Rozy said. “This is what God was training me to do in Houston for a purpose… This is my place, this is where God wants me. I get excited working here and I love the staff and the staff has blessed me.”