Archive for March, 2013

Volunteer Spotlight: Geoff

March 27, 2013
Geoff hard at work packing hampers.

Geoff hard at work packing hampers.

Geoff is a student at Conestoga College in the Police Foundations program and has been volunteering for over a year. He’s a positive guy who chats with everyone who comes in, and is reliably here every Tuesday at 11 am. He rarely misses a week even though he’s a student, has a job, and volunteers with other organizations. I don’t know how he finds the time to come in, but we’re sure glad he does!

How did you hear about House of Friendship?

I heard about the program through KW Volunteering.com

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

I enjoy working with the nice people here at EFHP and meeting the clients that we serve. I enjoy the satisfaction of making a measurable difference.

What’s your favourite job at our program?

I enjoy packing hampers because it gives me an opportunity to speak with our clients and get to know them.

How has volunteering impacted your life?

Volunteering has helped me better understand people that exist outside my own circle of friends. It makes it easier to communicate with people I don’t know or don’t know very well.

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

I volunteer at R.O.O.F. Drop-in and Operation Come Home

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

I enjoy drumming.

Thanks Geoff for taking this time to answer our questions. We really appreciate the work you do packing hampers, finding the time in your busy schedule.  

No National Housing Strategy for Canada

March 12, 2013

A few days ago  I read a blog post on the ALIV(e) (Awareness of Low Income Voices) blog. A woman was talking about how hard it was to afford a two bedroom apartment for her and her daughter with a disability, and how they needed to move into a one bedroom to be able to afford the rent when only receiving ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program) payments (read the full post here). She wrote about how without the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB)—which has been cut from social assistance this year—she would not have been able to afford first and last month’s rent on the smaller apartment, and would have ended up homeless or in a shelter due to rising rent costs on her two bedroom. She would not have been able to downsize to save money to support her and her daughter. Had she been in this same situation this year instead of last, she would be in the shelter system, which costs the province and region far more money, and is far less healthy for those involved.

This woman’s situation is, unfortunately, not unique. Many people in Waterloo Region, and indeed across Canada, who are on social assistance cannot afford rising rent costs on a stagnating monthly rate. Many will need to take apartments in ill-repair, which may have mold or utilities that do not work. Others will end up homeless living on the street or in shelters, or become what we call the invisible homeless, living with friends or family but not really having a place of their own.

H_of_F_logo_-_without_name

For these reasons, I was excited to see that NDP MP Marie-Claude Morin introduced Bill C-400: An Act to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians in parliament. The bill called for the government to consult groups involved in housing, including provinces, municipalities, and aboriginal groups, and report back to parliament with a report on a national housing strategy. As Guelph MP Frank Valeriote points out in this speech, Canada is the only G8 country without at national housing strategy. As a country, we need to have a plan to house everyone in safe accommodations that fit the size of the family. Many studies, including this one from the Wellesley Institute, show that this will lead to improved health conditions for Canadians.

Though Bill C-400 passed the first reading in parliament, on Wednesday, February 27th it was voted down to be read a second time. Though every MP from the Bloc, NDP, and Liberals voted for the bill, every Conservative MP voted against it. It should be noted that with private members bills, MPs are free to vote how they choose and are not legally obligated to follow party lines. Click here to see the full breakdown of votes.

(more…)

Volunteer Spotlight: Sarah K.

March 6, 2013

 

Two great volunteers! Holly (left) and Sarah (right).

Two great volunteers! Holly (left) and Sarah (right).

 

Sarah K. has been volunteering here since February 2012, and was a summer student this year at the front desk. She’s a great person to have around because she’s always calm and considerate with people who come in. It was great to get to know her this summer, and we’re thankful she’s staying on to volunteer, even as a university student with a busy schedule. Other facts about Sarah are that she’s currently studying Music Therapy at Wilfrid Laurier University, plays the cello, and is originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

How did you hear about the House of Friendship?

I heard about House of Friendship from a friend of mine while I was looking for a job a few years back. Then I had the opportunity to do a student placement at the Emergency Food Hamper Program (EFHP) and I jumped at the chance.

What do you enjoy about volunteering here?

I enjoy the family atmosphere At the Emergency Food hamper program. At the EFHP, I can be myself and serve other people in the process.

What’s your favourite job at our program?

I really love the variety of people I can help and work with. I especially love packing hampers because it is concrete and simple, yet very satisfying and personal.

How has volunteering impacted your life?

Volunteering has allowed me to have some time in the week that is for me, as well as for others. I come to volunteer because I love doing it.

Are there any other places you have volunteered?

I volunteered in a classroom at Lutherwood on Benjamin Road for a term.

What hobbies and interests do you enjoy in your spare time?

When I am not volunteering I am studying Music Therapy and playing cello. I try my best to fit in a little painting, sewing, or baking whenever I can.

Thanks Sarah for sharing with us and we’re so happy that you choose to spend your time so generously with us. You are such a positive person to have at the Emergency Food Hamper Program!