Volunteer Profile: Luke!

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It’s easy to say nice things about our volunteers. Though each is different, and brings special skills to our program, they are connected by their commitment to Food Hampers, and the fact that they have decided to donate–usually at least once a week–their time and energy to us. Without them, we would be unable to operate as we do. This is worth repeating: without them, we would be unable to operate as we do.

And though it’s easy to say nice things about our volunteers, it can be hard sometimes to capture the depth of their commitment and contribution to our program, and our broader community. This is certainly the case with Luke, who–if we didn’t make him go home!– might stick around till midnight, connecting with patrons and volunteers alike, providing steady support and understated guidance. No matter how busy we are, he energizes those around him, and challenges us to improve our quality of service. Since he started in April 2013 Luke has volunteered 335.5 hours, but that isn’t the half of it!

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How did you hear about House of Friendship’s Emergency Food Hamper Program?

For three years I volunteered with House of Friendship’s Christmas Hamper Program. Following that, and my own retirement, I became very interested in obtaining a regular placement in a House of Friendship program. So I made a few phone calls and found myself a volunteer position at the Emergency Food Hamper Program.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the the Food Hamper Program?

The atmosphere. I am surrounded here by kind, lighthearted individuals, and have built many friendships. Interacting with patrons, and hearing their appreciation for our service is a very rewarding part of being here as well.

What’s your favourite job here? Why?

Packing hampers. This position is the job that provides the primary function of the program: to administer food to those in need. I also thoroughly enjoy my direct interactions with patrons, and listening to their feedback regarding the service we offer. Additionally, I appreciate being able to work with patrons–to take into account their allergies or food restrictions, or maybe they need a birthday cake for their toddler–to make their experience as positive as possible.

How has volunteering impacted your life?

Volunteering is a big part of my life now, and also has been. And here, when I talk about volunteering, I’m speaking more generally, including participating in social movements and generally being a part of communities, and working to make them stronger.

I can easily recall my earliest involvement, on a civil rights walk in Seattle for Integrated Housing during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Integrated Housing was a movement against segregation caused by Real Estate Agents who refused to sell houses to African-Americans in certain areas in the city. (Also during the 60s, I participated in sit-ins at Walgreens.) On the Integrated Housing march, I met a woman who introduced me to a life changing opportunity. I quickly found himself interested in a volunteer position at a local jail where individuals would come and volunteer their time with inmates ranging in age from 18-20. These individuals were awaiting trials for petty crimes and due to fiscal reasons were unable to post bail. They were placed in a small retaining cell with many other individuals and had no source of entertainment.

I then became a leader for a Friend Service Committee group, where I realized I had a deep interest in social work, especially working with at-risk youth. I obtained my Masters degree in Social Work and worked for many years as a probation and parole officer in Seattle, Chicago and London, England. I eventually came to Canada, where I taught for 34 years in the faculty of social work at Laurier, acting as the Dean of Social Work for seven years.

Throughout my life I’ve been excited to take on new volunteer opportunities. I’ve repeatedly taken on volunteer opportunities in counseling: at the athletic department at Laurier; on KW Counselling’s Board of Directors; and I ran a local mediation group for families.

I did not dismiss my political beliefs or ideals once the Civil Movement ceased. I have continued to volunteer on political campaigns in both the United States and Canada. Lastly, I have also volunteered in the control group for a Parkinson’s research group.

Through his life, volunteering has impacted Luke profoundly. It has allowed him to become the person he is today and plays a central theme in his life; he began his career in the social service with volunteering and has decided to end his career in the same manner.

Though I can’t imagine you have much free time, what are your hobbies?

Aside from volunteering, I enjoy watching sports. I will never stop supporting all Golden Hawks athletics, and am also a Major League Baseball fan. I can still recall my first season cheering for my team–the Yankees, of course–in 1947.

And I also avidly follows Canadian and American politics. I’ve always been interested in politics and majored in Political Science. However, I quickly discovered that I like politics a great deal more than political science.

What’s your fondest memory working here?

One late winter or early spring day I went into the parking lot in search of a cart. I spotted a gentleman who had just finished loading his vehicle and was returning the cart. I walked toward the gentleman and assured him I’d be able to return the cart and to have a good day. As the cart was being transferred between us, the gentleman touched my arm and thanked me, explaining that without the support of the Emergency Food Hamper Program, his family would have had a much more difficult time making ends meet that winter.

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4 Responses to “Volunteer Profile: Luke!”

  1. hofemergenecyfoodassistance Says:

    yay Luke…🙌🙌

  2. hofemergenecyfoodassistance Says:

    Yay Luke… 🙆🙆🙆

  3. Volunteer Profile: Jane! | Hofemergencyfoodassistance's Blog Says:

    […] every Friday, Jane helps to anchor our Friday volunteer crew. She seems generally to come with Luke, another Friday stalwart. Like others who have been profiled here, she possesses a kind and […]

  4. Keep Paying It Forward In 2016 | Hofemergencyfoodassistance's Blog Says:

    […] Luke shared this about what he enjoys about working here: […]

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