Author Archive

Volunteer Spotlight: Wanda

September 6, 2012

Wanda has been volunteering at the Emergency Food Hamper Program since January 2012, giving over 70 hours of her time.  Wanda is such a positive person who brings so much energy to this program.  It has been so much fun getting to know Wanda since she started volunteering here.  Here is what Wanda had to say about her time spent volunteering at the EFHP.   

 How did you hear about House of Friendship?

I used to volunteer at Chandler Mowat Community Centre.  I helped with a number of different programs there.  I really enjoyed working with the teens at the ‘After 4’ program.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

I enjoy helping the community, and feeling like I am giving back in my own way.  I also really love the people that I have met here.  I see everyone here as being a part of one big happy family.  I guess you could say that they are all my sisters and brothers from another mother!  Volunteering at the EFHP is also a great escape for me, to get away from my daily schedule.

What’s your favourite job at our program?

I am happy doing whatever is needed.  Usually I am packing hampers, but I like bagging the bulk food items as well.

How has volunteering impacted your life?

Volunteering has brought so much happiness into my life.  I leave here knowing that I have made a positive difference in my community.  Volunteering just gives me such a good feeling.

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

Currently I am not volunteering anywhere else.  I am not longer living near the community centre that I used to volunteer at, so that is why I started volunteering at the food hamper program.

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

I love music!  I play the drums and so I like to make time to play them as much as possible.  I also really enjoy going to live concerts and participating in multicultural events that are held in the community.  I love spending time with my friends.  Nancy, a fellow volunteer, and I have become quite close since we both started volunteering at the Emergency Food Hamper Program.

Thank you, Wanda for sharing!  We have really enjoyed getting to know your fun personality. 

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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. 

Volunteer Spotlight: Sharron

July 3, 2012

Sharron has been volunteering here since October 2008, giving over 600 hours of her time!  When Sharron is here, you can always find her bagging bulk food items.  She is always up for whatever we send her way!  We really do value the commitment of volunteers like Sharron at the EFHP.  Here’s what Sharron had to say about her experience as a volunteer at the EFHP:      

How did you hear about House of Friendship?

I think I first heard about House of Friendship’s Emergency Food Hamper Program through a newsletter I received in the mail after having given a donation to the Charles Street Men’s Hostel.  There was something about the EFHP in it, and it sparked my interest.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

I enjoy the social aspect that volunteering at the EFHP offers me.  It gets me out of the house and doing something that is able to help so many people in the community.

What’s your favourite job at our program?

My favourite job at the Food Hamper program is bagging fruits and vegetables.  I have a wonderful ‘boss’ here, and he certainly keeps me busy.

How has volunteering impacted your life?

Volunteering at the EFHP has given me a greater knowledge of the world of fruits and vegetables.  Volunteering has also shown me the needs that exist in Kitchener-Waterloo.  I love that a program like Food Hampers is able to help the whole family, pets included!

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

Before the EFHP, I hadn’t volunteered anywhere else.  I used to work at Dare Foods with another volunteer at the EFHP, Ursula, and it has been great to be able to work alongside her again!

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

In my spare time, I enjoy reading all different kinds of books.  I love animals, so T.V. channels like Animal Planet really interest me.  I also enjoy being outside and going on walks.  Family is very important to me.  I have a son and a daughter and we get together at least once a week for a family meal.  I always look forward to visits with my son’s dog, Libby too!

Thanks for taking time to share with us Sharron! 

Volunteer Spotlight: Ursula

June 18, 2012

Ursula has been volunteering at the Emergency Food Hamper Program since April, giving over 35 hours of her time to the program.  Ursula volunteers alongside two of her children each week, making Mondays a family affair at 807 Guelph Street.  We have loved getting to know Ursula in the past few months, and look forward to many more laughs together! 

How did you hear about House of Friendship?

I first heard about House of Friendship through my daughter, Connie (see her spotlight here).  She has been volunteering here for over seven years now and it sounded like it was something that I would like to be involved in.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

I like volunteering at the EFHP because it is something that gets me out of my home and helping people in need.  It is wonderful to be able to volunteer alongside two of my children and to meet all of the volunteeers at the program.

Since my husband passed away earlier this year, I have been quite lonely at home.  Before I had my husband to care for, but now I don’t, so volunteering has been a good way for me to keep busy.

What’s your favourite job at our program?

My favourite job at Food Hampers is bagging the fruit, but I am up certainly up for whatever comes my way.  I like it all!

 How has volunteering impacted your life?

Volunteering has given me something meaningful to do.  At home, I just sit and watch TV.  This volunteer position has given me a sense of purpose.

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

I haven’t volunteered with any other programs in the area.  I used to work at Dare Foods, packing cookies on the line.  It has been great to reconnect at the EFHP with a former co-worker, Sharron, who also volunteers here.

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

I like to read all different types of books, ranging from biographies to books about nature and animals.  My love for animals has me regularly watching Animal Planet on T.V.  Family is very important to me, so I love time spent with my 10 children, 21 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.

Thanks Ursula for taking the time to share a little bit about yourself with us!  We appreciate all your hard work bagging whatever bulk food items we bring your way. 

A hamper is worth a thousand words

April 20, 2012

For us to try and explain in words all of the wonderful things that the volunteers at the Emergency Food Hamper Program do would be difficult.  Instead, we have compiled a set of pictures, both new and not-so new, of our volunteers in action!  The pictures will walk you through a typical day at 807 Guelph Street.

Let start with the morning.  Typically volunteers arrive any time after 8am ready to get to work.  The morning crew work together to sort, stock and bag large quantities of food that has been donated to our program.

Once the shelves have been stocked and the quotas set, we open the doors to the public.  At this time, we also welcome our hamper packers who will pack and distribute a large quantity of food to those are in need of food assistance.

While there is always work to be done at the Emergency Food Hamper Program, there is always time for FUN!

So this wraps up a day at the Emergency Food Hamper Program.  As you can see there is a lot of work that is done within the walls of 807 Guelph Street, but there is a lot of laughs shared amongst staff and volunteers to keep the spirits high!

Volunteer Spotlight: Kristina

April 20, 2012

Kristina has been volunteering here since April 2010, giving over 80 hours of her time.  During this time, Kristina has gone on a few great adventures to countries around the world, but we are always glad when she returns to volunteer with us!  Kristina always has a smile to share with the people that she is working with and the people that she is packing hampers for.  Here’s what she had to say about her experience volunteering at the Emergency Food Hamper Program:

How did you hear about House of Friendship?

I can remember my friend, Beth, telling me about how much she enjoyed volunteering with House of Friendship.  She asked me to come with her to check it out, and I have been coming ever since.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

I think I enjoy the interactions that I am able to have with the other volunteers and the people that are coming in for food assistance.  It has been great to get to know some of the regular volunteers who I get to spend time with on a weekly basis.

What’s your favourite job at our program?

My favourite job is definitely packing the hampers.  I like seeing what is going into the food hampers each week, and also getting a chance to interact with the food hamper recipients.  It makes it all worthwhile.

How has volunteering impacted your life?

Volunteering has given me an area that I am able to give of myself, and to help others along the way. It has also made me feel  like I am being useful with my time.  This is also a practical way for me to help people in need in our community.

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

Currently I am not volunteering anywhere else because I am in the midst of a Developmental Services Worker program through Fanshawe College, and it requires me to complete work placements for the program.  I am also working a variety of shifts at the Elmira Association for Community Living, so that consumes quite a bit of my time!

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

I like to travel and to check out the music events and festivals happening in our area.  I also like to bike and hike, and to take day trips here and there.  I met my husband, Nitin, on a trip to India where he is from, and ever since he moved to Canada it has been great to go on adventures with him.

Thank you Kristina for sharing with us!  I am glad you decided to come with me three years ago to volunteer at the EFHP.  It has been great having you and Nitin volunteering with us!   

Volunteer Spotlight: Martin

April 17, 2012

Martin has been volunteering at the Emergency Food Hamper Program (EFHP) for just over a year now, giving over 90 hours of his time to this food assistance program.  Martin is passionate about food, and this program seems to be a natural fit for him.  It was great to take a few moments to get to know Martin and what he does when he is not volunteering at the EFHP. 

How did you hear about House of Friendship?

I was looking to do some volunteering in K-W and I read about House of Friendship on the Volunteer Action Centre’s website.  I thought it would be a good fit for me since I currently work at the Loblaw’s distribution centre in Cambridge.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

I find that since I began volunteering I get more value from myself.  I find myself utilizing my days a lot better.  I don’t work until 3:00 pm, so coming here in the morning keeps me active.  I find so much value from volunteering here; not only am I keeping busy with something to do, I am also able to help people who are in need of food assistance in our community.

What’s your favourite job at our program?

I enjoy stocking the shelves.  I like this because I can just come in and get started.  I don’t need to be told what to do; I just do it.  I find that everyone works together here as a team.  If I ever have any questions, I don’t hesitate to ask for clarification.

How has volunteering impacted your life?

I have found that having something to do with my mornings has given me more motivation to keep active when I am not working.  As a result of volunteering and working with food, I have become increasingly interested in gardening.  This summer, I am starting a garden with a friend of mine.  I have a tray of 204 seedlings that I will plant at the garden.  I am excited about this opportunity!

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

The gardening project that I have undertaken will be keeping me quite busy in the coming months.  I am also working with the Program Coordinator at the EFHP to start a compost program.  With this project, I am visiting a number of farms in the area to see how they are composting.

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

I enjoy being active and outdoors.  I like biking, skiing, gardening and camping.  I did a lot of camping last year at some of the GRCA parks, and I plan to explore some of the parks in the Halton Hills area this summer.  I am also looking into spending a week volunteering at a farm near Listowel.  I find that I learn the most from face-to-face interactions with people, and not from just doing an internet search.

It sounds like you have some exciting adventures ahead of you!  Thanks for your ongoing commitment to the Emergency Food Hamper Program.  We are looking forward to the design and implementation of the compost program here!   

Welcome Volunteer Week!

April 16, 2012

Too often we under-estimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

 –Dr. Felice Leonardo Buscaglia

Volunteers working together to pack a food hamper

Each year organizations across Canada shine a spotlight on the people who are making a lasting difference in the lives of many.  Who might these extraordinary people be?  Volunteers!  Today marks the beginning of a weeklong national celebration of volunteerism.

According to the 2010 Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating, 13.3 million Canadians volunteered their time through a group or organization, giving about 2.1 billion hours in 2010 alone.  The volunteers at House of Friendship’s Emergency Food Hamper program are certainly doing their part.

In 2011, about 200 volunteers gave over 12,500 hours to this program!  2012 will certainly be no exception with over 100 people volunteering in the past four months alone, accounting for 3600 hours.

Over the next few days we will be highlighting the people who work behind the scenes to make a program like ours possible.  While all of our volunteers have different reasons for volunteering at the EFHP, each and every one of them share the common goal of wanting to provide food assistance to those in need of food in our community.

We recognize not only the gift of time that volunteers give programs like ours, but we also acknowledge those extra touches that a volunteer can provide.  Sometimes when the lobby is packed with people waiting, it can be easy to forget about the individuals and families behind the numbers.  The volunteers here seem to be ever in tune with the fact that, while we may be quite busy, it can be those personal touches that can put a patron at ease or provide them with some comfort in what may be one of the most difficult seasons of their life.  So for this, and the many other things that volunteers bring to a program like ours, we salute the great works of volunteers here and beyond the walls of 807 Guelph Street.

From all of us at House of Friendship, we say ‘thank you’.