Choosing conscientious objection to war was not an easy choice. Young men made this decision with help of family and friends. It was a decision that affected the whole community, not just the conscientious objector. It meant appearing before a judge and then leaving home for an unknown amount of time. This was never easy, especially when many people didn't respect COs. The support of their home communities helped COs to make it through the war. For many young men, this was their first time away from home. They were very homesick.
David Jantzi felt fortunate that he could serve as a CO but found it hard to be away from his wife and young son, especially when they were serving for the duration of the war and no one knew how long that would be.
Sometimes, support from home took a very practical form. “Paging through my camp diary,” A.J. Funk writes, “I also notice how we Saskatchewan boys appreciated the parkas and woolen socks, which we received from the Ladies Aid. We felt the warmth of those Ladies' donations on our feet and bodies.” [ ASM , 219-220] These letters and packages helped the men tremendously, especially when they knew that being a conscientious objector had consequences for their families back home.
Letters and donations like this were part of larger Mennonite relief efforts. When the war came, all Mennonite groups increased their international relief work. In Ontario, the Non-Resistant Relief Organization, collected and sent aid overseas. In western Canada, churches also organized committees to collect food, money, and clothing. The committees shipped this overseas to help victims of the war.
Church ministers visited the alternative service workers both to encourage the COs that they had made the right decision and to strengthen their faith.
Church members gathered together to provide a home away from home for the COs.