Volunteer Profile: Karen

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[Chloe, our wonderful Summer Special Projects Assistant at House of Friendship’s Emergency Food Hamper Program, wrote the following post.]

Karen is doing great things here! She has been a volunteer for six months, logging over 106 hours. She comes in during the mornings and does any job necessary–usually stocking the shelves or helping fellow volunteer Daniel at the meat station. I had a chance to sit down with her, a challenge with someone who never stops working!

How would you describe your life so far?
I was an addict, and have dealt with addictions off and on for 30 years. I lost my family and career to it. It took me to places I never thought I would go. The last time I did treatment was November, and I have been clean since then. Although I am happy that I have reached a good place again, it is hard to stay positive sometimes, no matter what the people around me say.

Can you tell me about how you ended up here at the food hamper program?
My counselor at St. Mary’s suggested I do some volunteer work, to keep busy. I didn’t know where to go, and so he suggested a food bank. A friend of mine found this place, and since I live close by, it was the best choice!

Why do you volunteer here? Is it important to you?
I love volunteering here! It never feels structured like a 9-5 job. Everybody I work with is wonderful, and are always happy! I feel like I’m not judged here, and people don’t get frustrated if I ask a lot of questions.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?
Just the realization that when I first started here, I was in bad shape, but there are always people worse off than me. I try to carry that with me the rest of the day, and remember it when I am not here!

What’s your favourite job at our program?
Stocking shelves!

Are there particular reasons you chose House of Friendship?
The fact that I can walk here!

Is there anything you want to share with the community about House of Friendship? (Good or bad!)
It’s all good! There is a non-judgmental, happy, comforting atmosphere whenever I am here.

What keeps you busy when you aren’t here? Are there any other programs that you are or have volunteered with?
I have never volunteered anywhere else. When I am not here, I go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and a support group for different kinds of addicts.

Do you have any favourite moments or experiences here?
In general, I am just happy here! I love all the singing–Daniel especially. And the fact that a lot of people here are very knowledgeable, like Daniel and Wanda are about music. Everyone has their own little thing that they’re interested in. And I love working with Anton [driver/warehouse worker/gopher]! He is a nut, a good nut.

I look to forward to the days I get to see Karen. She is such a warm and caring person, greeting everybody who walks in with a smile. I am glad I had a chance to interview her and I commend her for being so brave in sharing her story with us.

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