Archive for August, 2012

Volunteer Spotlight: Nanci

August 30, 2012

Beth and Nanci

Nanci has been volunteering at the Emergency Food Hamper Program since January 2012.  To date, she has given over 120 hours of her time!  Nanci has such a fun-loving personality and really has a heart for people.  Here is a little bit about Nanci:

How did you hear about House of Friendship?

I had heard about House of Friendship a number of years ago through a friend, and ever since then I wanted to get involved.  This past December, I helped out  at House of Friendship’s Christmas Hamper program and just loved it.  I am looking forward to helping out again this year.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

What I like most about volunteering here is the fact that I am able to give back to the community.  It’s a good feeling.  I also really enjoy all the people that I get to interact with when I am volunteering, including the staff and volunteers.

What’s your favourite job at our program?

My favourite job is packing food hampers.  I’m a ‘foody’ who loves to feed people.  I try to make it personal when I am packing the hampers.  I really do my best to treat them like they were someone I know.  When I see they have children, I think about what my children would have wanted at that age.  I also pay careful attention to the special diets and the ages of the people in the household.

How has volunteering impacted your life?

Volunteering has impacted me in many ways.  I have become more comfortable in areas that I had little experience with in the past.  Volunteering has also given me patience.  I have to respect and appreciate that everyone works differently, and that I can learn from other people.

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

I used to volunteer at Ray of Hope, helping in the kitchen.

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

I love to be active by working out and going for walks.  I enjoy travelling.  I am going out to British Columbia to visit with my son and his family soon.  Family is very important to me, and I like to spend as much time with them as possible.  I also love to designing and decorating my house and cooking for other people.

Thank you Nanci for taking some time to tell us about yourself!  It has been fun getting to know you! 

Volunteer Spotlight: Chloe

August 16, 2012

Chloe has been volunteering with us since January 2012.  Since starting here, she has given over 95 hours of her time.  Chloe has proven to be quite flexible, coming in at short notice to help fill-in if needed.  It has been great for us to get to know Chloe over the past 7 months, and we look forward to many more with her!   

How did you hear about House of Friendship?

I heard about House of Friendship through the Volunteer Action Centre.  There was a posting for volunteer opportunities with House of Friendship’s Christmas Hamper Program that had already been filled and so they directed me to the Emergency Food Hamper Program.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

I enjoy meeting the people that are coming in for assistance with food, and getting to know the staff and volunteers.  I also really love to see how organized it is here.  I guess you could call me an organized person, so I love things like that.

What’s your favourite job at our program?

My favourite job is packing food hampers.  I like organizing the food items so they fit perfectly into the boxes.  It also gives me an opportunity to interact with the people coming in for food hampers.

How has volunteering impacted your life?

Volunteering at the Emergency Food Hamper Program has helped me to realize what I want to do with my schooling.  I was in a music therapy program at Acadia University in Nova Scotia for two years, but decided that I wanted something different.  I am excited about this upcoming school year where I will be in the Social Development Studies program at the University of Waterloo.

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

Besides the mandatory 40 hours that you have to complete in high school, I had never really volunteered anywhere before the Emergency Food Hamper Program.  I just recently started volunteering at the Queen Street Commons.  I love the fast-paced environment that it offers me.  When I am there, I help in the kitchen with food preparations.

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

I love to listen to all types of music (except for country), and to watch all different kinds of movies.  I also love to hang out with awesome people that I call my friends.  Making sure I have everything ready for the start of school has also become an activity of mine.

Thanks Chloe for sharing with us!  Good luck to you as you begin your new program at the University of Waterloo.   

Volunteer Spotlight: Candace

August 2, 2012

Candace has been volunteering at the Emergency Food Hamper Program since April 2012, giving over 100 hours of her time!  In the months that she has been volunteering, Candace has shown us that she is up for anything here.  We have really appreciated her willingness to assist new volunteers as they navigate the world of hamper packing.  Here is what Candace had to say about her experience volunteering with us. 

How did you hear about House of Friendship?

I used to come into the Emergency Food Hamper Program for assistance with food for myself so I was familiar with the types of things that House of Friendship did.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

What don’t I enjoy about volunteering here?  I enjoy making a difference in the lives of the people that come in for food hampers.  I enjoy the staff and volunteers that I get the opportunity to work with.  All in all, I enjoy it all.

What’s your favourite job at our program?

I have two favourite jobs at the EFHP.  I love packing hampers.  When I get the food slip that tells me what the person and the people in their household would like, I try to keep them in mind as I pack their hamper.  The food slip tells me the age range of the people in a household.  I am a mother myself, so if I see that there are kids in the family, I try and pick out things that I think they would like.

My second favourite job here is sorting through the baby items that we put in hampers like diapers and formula for families with young children.  It can be seen as a small part of the program, but I know it makes such a difference in the lives of those families receiving some extra help with things for their babies.

How has volunteering impacted your life?

Volunteering has definitely positively impacted my life.  This gives me a great sense of worth.  Before I started volunteering here, I felt useless in a lot of ways, but now I feel like I am making a positive impact in my community.  I have something called GAD, which stands for ‘Generalized Anxiety Disorder’.  With this anxiety disorder, I feel a real lack of control over the way I feel.  Volunteering here has given me back a sense of control that I have been missing for a long time now.  In the past, when I had to come here for a food hamper, I can remember my anxiety levels being high because those situations would be very difficult for me to deal with.  I am now on the other side of things, and I have regained the sense of control that I had been missing for quite a while.  Volunteering has been like cheap therapy for me!

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

I am not volunteering anywhere else right now.  I was previously involved with a number of different programs in the area, but because of some personal things, I needed to step back for a while.

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

I spend a lot of time with my daughter and my friend’s children.  I have a patio garden with lots of vegetables that I love to try cooking new things with.  I also really look forward to making my preserves each year.  I just completed my patch of strawberry jam, and will start to work on other fruit jams soon!  I also love reading all types of genres.  You name it, I’ll read it!

Thanks Candace for sharing with us!  It was great to have the opportunity to get to know a little bit more about what keeps you coming back week after week. 

Community Gardening

August 2, 2012

On Thursdays during the summer, I have been working all day at Sunnydale Community Centre. There are a number of things I regularly do here at this vibrant and joyful place.

Around 11:30am on Thursdays, Anton usually arrives with a big work van full of food that we have gotten donated to us from the Food Bank or Loblaws. The food is set on 2 tables out front of the Centre, and within minutes the area surrounding the Community Centre turns into a hopping marketplace. Residents from the community come to collect food for themselves and/or their family, never lacking in lots of chit chat and community-building.

Something else I was introduced to a few weeks ago was the Community Garden that is on the outskirts of the Community Centre property. Eight cultures are represented in this ten-plot garden. Families from Vietnam, Canada, Bangladesh, Lao, Russia, Ukraine, United States and Iraq all have plots to grow food that they enjoy and that is important to them. Residents share this food with one another, and also tend to each other’s plots from time to time. It is so fascinating! I love seeing the variety of cultural and ethnic foods growing locally and organically. I love how proud people are to share their culture in the form of food they can grow.

Learning about and seeing the community garden in bloom has made me curious to research and share information about the process of growing and maintaining a community garden. Here is some information I’ve found:

What is a community garden?

  • People come together to grow vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers
  • Run by churches, community agencies, clubs, neighbourhood associations

What are the benefits of a community garden?

  • Provides recreational gardening and activity for people
  • Provides fresh fruits and vegetables to individuals and families, some of whom may not regularly have access to such food
  • Reduces green house gases since the food is grown locally and not transported
  • Individuals of all cultures and ages can garden in a community garden; this reduces age and cultural barriers and allows people to learn from and share with each other
  • Educates people on how to grow and harvest foods that they enjoy to eat
  • Creates community among people with a common goal in mind

To learn more about community gardens, visit:

  • Community Garden Council of Waterloo Region

http://together4health.ca/workgroups/waterloo-region-community-garden-council

I have also been researching about different types of community gardens, and how to make a community garden more accessible to those with more restricted mobility. Stay tuned for a post devoted to barrier-free community gardening.