Volunteer Spotlight: Francis

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We’ll never run out of cardboard centers for the banana boxes we use to pack hampers in when Francis is around! Francis comes in each week to keep on top of breaking down boxes, re-packaging food items, and helping out with whatever task we have in the warehouse. He’s a dedicated and hard-working volunteer with a great sense of humour to match with our fun spirited Friday crew. To date Francis has put in over 1 700 hours volunteering at our program since May of 2002. In this year alone Francis has volunteered for more than 250 hours! After Francis finished telling me another joke he heard over the last week, I spent some time with him to ask him about his volunteer experience and learn a little bit more about this long-term volunteer.

How did you hear about House of Friendship?

“I’m not sure how I heard about this program exactly but a few years back I remember coming here because we were in a tough spot. After various health complications arose I was unable to work for a period of time, which left my family without an income. I was never really brought up to accept “hand-outs” so I wanted to give back. If I got something I wanted to feel like I had worked for it.”

Why is volunteering important to you?

“It’s being true to the person my parents raised me to be. I remember my parents would help out our neighbours when we lived on the farm with different things; then when we moved off the farm they would still go out to help people whenever needed. I learned a lot of skills on the farm that people don’t learn in school. My parents always tried to teach us the value of teaching people how to fish, instead of giving them a fish, so working here allows me to interact with people to pass on these skills. Knowledge is a gift that people can keep giving.”

Are there any other programs that you volunteer or have volunteered with?

“I’ve worked with the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul to prepare Christmas hampers. I’ve also done a lot of work with the Knights of Columbus in Maryhill. I was involved in the “Squires” group, which was teaching children different skills, playing games together, and getting them involved in the community through events like road clean up projects. The kids often enjoyed playing basketball the most. Another important act of volunteering I do is to give blood, which is like volunteering to save someone’s life in a way. On January 5, 2011 I will have given blood for the 72nd time.”

What’s your favourite job at our program?

“I’ll do whatever needs to be done. I keep coming back because there are always a variety of tasks so it’s always an interesting experience for me each week. Also there’s always a great group of people to talk with!”

What kind of activities or hobbies do you enjoy when you’re not working or volunteering?

“I enjoy playing volleyball every other Friday night during the winter months. I’ve been doing that for about 30 years and been able to re-connect with some old friends. Volleyball helps me stay active – there was one point in my life where I was told I might not be able to use my legs anymore, so now I do things like walking and playing volleyball because I can. I want to stay active and keep moving, because one day I may not be able to do all these things…I also enjoy spending time with my grandchildren; hooking rugs; going to church; and being involved in various spiritual groups.”

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