A New Face at House of Friendship

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Hi Friends,

My name is Allison Neufeld, and I am the new Social Services Intern here at House of Friendship!

So this is my first post as the new intern, and it serves as a bit of an introduction. I would like to say from the outset of this post, thank you to everyone that I’ve already met! In the month or so since I started here, I have felt so welcomed and showered with kindness. House of Friendship employees and volunteers alike have come alongside me as I stumbled (and continue to stumble) through the initial learning curve that accompanies a new job and I am so grateful for this.

Almost two months ago, I finished the last of my exams and papers and became a graduate of the International Development program at the University of Guelph. I have since moved back to my hometown of Waterloo, and am now working here. It’s been a speedy but wonderful transition. I went into university expecting to use my degree to travel and work abroad. I was, and still am, very interested in issues of poverty, inequality and social justice. As I approached the end of my schooling, I found myself more and more curious about the nature of those issues within my own country and community (issues that were, for the most part, untouched within my studies). So in figuring out what to do next, for the first time, home was exactly where I wanted to be.

That’s what attracted me to this job—a job that I have now been working and loving for six weeks! Although I am slowly getting a feel for this organization, my exposure to House of Friendship has mostly been through three programs: Emergency Food Hampers, Live and Learn and Eby Village. Within each of these programs, I am finding that the more I learn, the less I feel like I know.

Here’s something I’ve been thinking about lately. At the Food Hamper program, I am learning that the quickest way to find someone on the data base is not to attempt to enter their name (which, even if you heard it correctly, you are likely to misspell), but to enter their birth date. Many times this exercise has surprised me, as I have found myself staring across the counter at someone who I now know is the same age as me, or my younger sister or my best friend. It’s easy in those situations to feel overwhelmed by how different my life is from the person I am talking to.

A couple of times now, I have seen those people outside the context of the hamper program. I have seen them on my way home from work, handing their box of food to their kids; or while I’m reading in the park and they’re taking a stroll with their friends. It’s a strange encounter, which usually doesn’t consist of more than a moment’s eye contact. But that’s all it takes for me to reconsider the difference that exists between us. Although we are all unique and lead divergent lives, there are commonalities that define us too. We all have families (however unconventional) and friends and people that we depend on or support. Even more common, and which has been especially obvious to me lately, is our universal reliance on food to lead happy, healthy lives.

Over the coming months, as this new job stops feeling so new, I am looking forward to discovering from people in each of House of Friendship’s programs, not the things that divide, but connect us.

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