Archive for February, 2012

Volunteer Spotlight: Jessie

February 29, 2012

Jessie has been volunteering at the Emergency Food Hamper program since September 2011, but involved with House of Friendship for some time.  To date, Jessie has volunteered over 45 hours to the Food Hamper Program.  Jessie was a summer student at the EFHP, and we are so thankful that Jessie decided to become a volunteer after the placement came to an end.

How did you hear about House of Friendship?

I worked at the Emergency Food Hamper Program as a summer student in 2011.  In that position, I helped with intake, packing food hampers and going with one of the drivers to pick-up food donations.  It was this experience that encouraged me to continue my involvement with House of Friendship.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

I really enjoy coming in and helping out wherever I can.  I just love helping people, and seeing them smile when they get their food hampers.  I also like coming in to see the staff and volunteers that I have gotten to know over the past several months.

What’s your favourite job at our program?

My favourite job is packing the food hampers.  I like to see what goes into a food hamper on a given day.  I especially like to see what desserts are going into the hampers because I’ve got a real sweet tooth.

How has volunteering impacted your life?

Just seeing how many people come in for food has made me aware of the need that exists in our community.  I have also found that I have become more food aware in the sense that I really try to not waste the food that I have.

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

I volunteer at a few different places in Kitchener Waterloo.  I am involved with Community Justice Initiatives, where I go into the Grand Valley Institution for Women to help with some activities there.  I also do some talks with the women who are going to be moving back into the community.

For the past four years, I have been involved at the Canadian Mental Health Association, working one-on-one with someone.  I also spend some time at Ray of Hope, acting as a mentor to the youth there.

What kind of activities or hobbies do you enjoy when you aren’t working or volunteering?

I am in the midst of completing my undergraduate degree at the University of Waterloo in Criminology and Sociology.  In my spare time, I love to catch up on all of the television shows I watch.  I love to eat sweets, especially anything chocolaty.  I also try to spend as much time with my friends and family as possible.

Thanks for sharing with us, Jessie!  We are glad that you can fit us into your busy weekly schedule!   


February 17, 2012

Potato Blitz mascot Spuddy enjoys a photo op at your local FreshCo

The German word blitz has a lot of different meanings.  What exactly is a potato blitz?  Is it some sort of food? Are they going to be falling from the sky?

Well, you don’t have to worry about getting a helmet. And on the bright side, it will involve eating – but I’ll get to that in a little bit.  For us at House of Friendship, blitz means a short, focused effort.  As you may already know, the  Potato Blitz is a one month push to collect as many potatoes as we can so that we can share with the people who turn to us for help.  With me so far?

In just 15 days (between Don Cameron Potato Night and this last Saturday) many, many people have stepped up, pitched in and shared a gift with us:  a gift of potatoes, some kind words of support and a lot of smiles!

I’ve written about Don Cameron Potato Night already.  Last Saturday, it was the second major blitz event, House of Friendship’s annual Supermarket Blitz.  The Supermarket Blitz is a one day community wide effort, where volunteers, staff, friends and family visit local grocery stores and ask their neighbours for some potatoes to help the less fortunate members of our community.  What a day!

In the space of a few hours we received over 22 skids of potatoes from shoppers at 26 different stores across the region!  When combined with the financial donations that were made as well, we collected the equivalent of 102,000 pounds of potatoes!  When we add that to the donations we accepted at Don Cameron Potato night we are only 12,000 pounds away from our goal of 200,000 pound goal.

House of Friendship staff and volunteers take a break in front of some of the 22 skids that were collected during the annual Supermarket Blitz

What’s left now?  We are always accepting donations of more potatoes and other food items.  More info on how you can help here. Every single spud will make a difference to the people we serve, who, are coming to us in record numbers.  This last January was the busiest month in the history of the emergency food hamper program, with 3491 hampers going out our doors to fill empty kitchen cupboards in Kitchener and Waterloo.

Each potato and dollar that is donated this month will help us put food on families tables for most of the coming year. Thanks to Jay West, a local food retailer in St. Jacobs, we will be able to store the spuds in the right conditions so they are still perfect when we need them in the coming months.

Are you planning on attending the community potato lunch next Friday?  It will be between 12 and 1pm, Friday February 24th at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Kitchener.  Last years lunch (post here) was a huge success and you can look forward to more great company, and the second (critically acclaimed) soup idol contest where local’s try and win the favour of the judges with their best potato soup recipe.  This year we expect some serious competition. (Do you think your soup recipe is a winner?  We’re still looking for people to compete – you can contact Jenn at 519-742-8327 for more info.)

Volunteer Spotlight: Dean

February 15, 2012

Dean has been volunteering at the Emergency Food Hamper Program since April 2011, giving over 110 hours of his time!  Dean is always willing to complete any task that is thrown his way.  We have certainly appreciated all his hard work in the warehouse over this past year!  

How did you hear about House of Friendship?

I heard about House of Friendship through my wife, Tiffany.  She used to volunteer at the Emergency Food Hamper and she encouraged me to get involved.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

I like the fact that I can work at my own pace here.  I don’t have to worry about completing a certain number by a certain time; I just work until its time to go home.  It’s so refreshing!

 What’s your favourite job at our program?

I am not sure that I have a favourite job here.  There is so much variety in the work that I do here with something different for me every time I come in.  I sort and bag anything from mushrooms to diapers.  It is kind of exciting to come in and see what I will be working on.

How has volunteering impacted your life?

I find that volunteering is a rewarding experience for me.  I feel like I am making a difference in my own way.  At the food hamper program, you can really see that you are accomplishing something.  The food comes in and we are able to sort through it and put together many hampers for people in need in our community.  I like being a part of such a great program like this.

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

For almost a year now, I have been volunteering three days a week at Generations Thrift Store in Waterloo.  When I am there, I help out by pricing the items that have been received.

What kind of activities or hobbies do you enjoy when you aren’t working or volunteering?

When I am not volunteering, I enjoy spending as much time with my family as possible.  I also love watching television shows like CSI and Law and Order.  I also enjoy playing games on the computer like Solitaire.

Thanks for taking some time to let us get to know you a little bit better! 

How high can you leap?

February 8, 2012

February 29 is a day that you don’t get to enjoy very often.  That’s because it only shows up every four years (for most people that is, usually… it’s kind of complicated. There’s more info here). Why do we get to enjoy it in 2012?

It’s a leap year!

What would you do with an extra day in the calendar?  Well, a local teen, named Madi, asked herself this, and wondered if everyone would really appreciate it.  Would it be an extra day of joy, or just another day of struggle?

Madi says: “Through the good and the bad, it always helps to know that someone cares about you.”  She wanted to show that an extra day is something for everyone to celebrate and decided to find 29 ways to prove it.  So, she started a social media campaign to share the idea and get out an important and powerful message: showing others that you care is important and easy to do.

Everything you do for others, no matter how big or small makes a difference for all of us.

If you made a resolution this year to pitch in and help others, this is your chance!

It could be 29 cans of food at your local grocery store donation bin.  It could be 29 kind words to strangers you pass in the street.  29 cents, 29 dollars – you decide how much you want to do and for whom.  But, be sure to share!

You can check out Madi’s campaign on her webpage, youtube channel, twitter and facebook page.  Not sure how you can help?  There are tips, examples and lots of info on ways to take 29 leaps towards a better community.

If you want to take part in this fantastic push to do good for others, consider sharing some of your time this Saturday with House of Friendship’s Potato Blitz.  We are still looking for volunteers!  You can find out more details here or by calling Jenn at 519-742-8327 extension 0.  Help us reach our goal of 200,000lbs of potatoes!

What hand were you dealt?

February 8, 2012

On Wednesday mornings, I head over to 174 King (aka 174), which is one of House of Friendship’s addiction programs. This program is a 6-8 month residential treatment facility for men who desire to overcome an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. There are approximately fifteen men who stay in the house at any given time, providing them with a supportive and substance-free environment to help them in their recovery. (more…)

Don Cameron gets results

February 3, 2012

Volunteers and Kitchener Waterloo can move mountains.  Mountains of potatoes that is! How do we know this?  Well, because of the Don Cameron Potato Night of course!

It was, as usual, a record breaking event!  Rangers fans did it again, bringing in 4,800 lbs of potatoes and giving $6,394 in cash donations.  Thanks to a special purchasing agreement with a local supplier we are able to purchase potatoes at an average rate of 15 cents per pound, which means that Rangers fans alone raised the equivalent of 47,425 pounds of spuds, matching last year’s record effort!

Volunteering at the night, Colin shared with me afterwords, “I was excited to see the level of community support House of Friendship has.  There are so many areas of the community we rely on for support and the folks coming to the game represent another one of those corners. It was just amazing to see how many folks do bring out potatoes.”

But there’s more good news.  Zehrs markets donated $5,000 and another 4,500 lbs of potatoes to Don Cameron Potato Night for a total contribution of 37,833 pounds of potatoes.  This means that in one very special evening, Don Cameron Potato Night raised the equivalent of more than 85,000 pounds of potatoes! (more…)

Home Economics 101: Waterloo Edition – What does a healthy diet cost?

February 3, 2012

It’s no surprise how quickly a grocery bill can add up throughout the month after you buy fresh produce, school snacks, meat, milk, and all the other foods you need. But do you have any idea how much money someone typically spends to feed the average family in Waterloo Region a healthy diet? … Give up? Well keep reading and you’ll find out!

Back in September The Region of Waterloo released their annual “Cost of the Nutritious Food Basket” report, which provides an estimate on the overall cost for a household to eat a healthy diet. The estimates of this report are based on average food prices from various grocery stores throughout the community, based on the dietary recommendations from Canada’s Food Guide for specific ages and genders, the number of people in the household and reflective on eating patterns of the community. (more…)