Archive for the ‘Volunteerism’ Category

Volunteers Are The Roots Of Strong Communities

April 15, 2016


Roots are important.

A place like Kitchener Waterloo has a history. Each person who lives here, and has lived here, has set down roots. They get tangled up and they hold us together.  They hold our history, and clues to what is important for all of us.

Tomorrow is the last day of Volunteer Appreciation Week.  Volunteers are one of the single greatest factors that help us achieve our goals at House of Friendship.  As


Pat always has a smile and a joke to share.

Alissa from the Kingsdale Community Centre recently shared with us, “our community  is hugged by the faithful arms of volunteers, they are the hands and feet of the support we are able to provide to the community.”

Take Pat, for example, a volunteer at the Emergency Food Hamper Program.  She dedicates herself to making sure things are clean and tidy and lending a hand anywhere when needed.  She told me that, “volunteering is a great feeling. When I volunteer I know that I’m helping and I like to help people!”

She and over 70 other volunteers help each week to ensure people have something to eat in our community at the Food Hamper Program. Each day everywhere in House of Friendship and across the Region Pat and countless other volunteers like her get to work and leave a profound and lasting mark on our neighbourhoods. (more…)

$15 And Fairness Campaign – A Day Of Action Across Ontario Tomorrow!

April 14, 2016

Today I’m happy to share a message from Marjorie, a BSW student on placement with us, and a representative of 15 And Fairness.

Do you care about any of the following?

$15 minimum wage?
Paid sick days?
Equal pay for equal jobs?
Fairness in the workplace?
Employment Act that protects ALL workers?

Come and join 15 And Fairness on Friday for a day of action!

The Ontario government is going to make changes with or without you now is the time to let them know what you think is important!

Meet us at Victoria Park by the fountain entrance closest to the Charles Street Bus Station. We will meet at 11:30am get organized and then march to City Hall! Come have your say! 11:30am to 1:00pm – BE THERE AND HAVE YOUR SAY! (more…)

Keep Paying It Forward In 2016

January 11, 2016

Happy New Year everyone!

Now that the Holiday Season is behind us and everyone seems to be getting back into their usual weekly routines I wanted to share some words from some of our Emergency Food Hamper Program Volunteers, as a way to offer some encouragement to those of you who have decided that 2016 will be the year of getting involved in your community!

Why Volunteer?

Maybe you followed our #12daysforgood campaign and saw something in the daily themes that resonated with you, perhaps you have made a New Year’s resolution to do something and volunteer because you are grateful for support you have received at some point in your life.  There are a million different reasons, but one fact remains: volunteering has many benefits, not just for others, but also for yourself! (more…)

Helping Families Move Forward – How Food Banks Help

December 4, 2015

This fall Lina Shamoun, a local entrepreneur, went on a tour of The Food Bank of Waterloo Region with other young business owners. The questions being asked made her realize that some people do not understand who needs help and why.  She realized she had an opportunity to help educate the community through her family’s experience and it would be important for her to share her story.

Lina’s story is one of many of those who have relied on food assistance in tough times. She was 14 when her family came to Canada.

“We struggled to learn English, learn about our new home’s culture, and how to belong.  It is hard for me now to look back and fully comprehend what my parents did for us.  Somehow they found ways to adapt, adjust and to earn a living to support my 4 younger siblings and I so we could become part of the Canadian fabric,” she shares.

Those first few years were particularly difficult and Lina’s parents impressed upon her the importance of the food support they received through the local church programs by showing her the schedule of when they were eligible for food assistance. To this day they keep a record to remind them of the generosity of their neighbours.   (more…)

The State of Food Insecurity: Hunger Count 2015

November 17, 2015


hungercount2015-singles-p3-normalToday, Food Banks Canada released the HungerCount 2015 report, which shows that 850,000 people access food banks each month. More than 300,000 of those helped are children. Here in Waterloo Region 1 in 20 households received food assistance. Half of these households are families with children.

The HungerCount offers stark evidence of the realities faced by far too many people in Canada: the reality that a job does not always guarantee food security; the reality that safe, quality housing is too often unaffordable; the reality that social assistance, disability and basic pension benefits are inadequate to support people who have fallen on hard times.

The volunteers and staff who run community food banks are proud of the work they do to help Canadians put enough food on the table. Nationally, the food bank network has adapted to changing times by increasing the variety of food available to the people it helps, and by providing services that go beyond the simple provision of food. The network today is radically different from what existed in the 1980s, when food banks first started opening their doors in Canada.

In Waterloo Region, we have a vital community Food Assistance Network of more than 100 programs anchored by two food banks: the Cambridge Self Help Food Bank and The Food Bank of Waterloo Region. By working together the network provides a respectful, warm environment where members of our community can receive the nutritious food they need. They can connect with programs that empower them to learn more about healthy eating, budgeting, food preparation and services to help find employment, counselling, affordable housing and other needs. (more…)

Volunteer Profile: Laura

September 28, 2015

[Khadija, Summer Special Projects Assistant at House of Friendship’s Emergency Food Hamper Program, wrote the following profile.]

There are very few people whom I have met that can be tenacious in spirit and have a calming effect on others. Laura illustrates that fine balance between the two valuable characteristics.  With approximately 93 hours clocked in so far as a volunteer at the Emergency Food Hamper Program (EFHP) since May 22 of 2014 she’s not turning back anytime soon – she’s hooked! Read on more to find out why.

Laura Allan photo

Can you tell me about how you ended up here at the food hamper program?

I looked for volunteer postings online and found out about it there. I’ve been looking for something like this for a long time; nothing else quite engages me as much as being able to have that connection with people coming in and really feel that I am making a difference. (more…)

Volunteer Profile: Ernst

September 14, 2015

[Khadija, Summer Special Projects Assistant at House of Friendship’s Emergency Food Hamper Program, wrote the following profile.]

I remember when I initially met Ernst I liked how friendly and warm he was to everyone around him. I appreciated not only seeing that but also experiencing that when I started working here. Always happy and always ready to help a hand, Ernst has definitely made his impact here since he started volunteering this past April–already a whopping 92 hours!

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Can you tell me about how you ended up here at the food hamper program?

I also volunteer at the Charles Street Men’s Hostel and one of the staff there was bringing a volunteer group to the Food Hamper Program. He asked me if I wanted to come with him. I liked it here because it reminded me of when I also volunteered at the food bank in Amsterdam–where I used to live. (more…)

Everything You Touch Touches You: Tawn’s Volunteer Profile

September 1, 2015

[Khadija, Summer Special Projects Assistant at House of Friendship’s Emergency Food Hamper Program, wrote the following profile.]

Sitting down with Tawn to profile her for our blog, we immediately hit it off! Super warm and personable, she is a joy to chat with. She is authentically herself and exudes kindness. Tawn joined the volunteer team at EFPH in January 2014 and has since contributed 116 hours. Considering how busy she is with other commitments its incredible how much she is here to help us out. You rock Tawn!


Can you tell me about how you ended up here at the food hamper program? Why do you volunteer here? Is it important to you?

I want to give back to the community. I remember in my family’s first year in Canada, I was six, and we lived in government housing on Park Street. Our very first Christmas someone rang the doorbell and gave us a giant box of food and I remember our mother thinking, “Our savior,” and my dad being so happy because we actually had food for Christmas. And I thought to myself: when I grow up I’m going be that guy that delivers food to people. That’s why I wanted to volunteer here.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

I enjoy meeting new people alongside working with the regulars. I feel I am doing something good – creating good karma.

What’s your favourite job at our program?

I definitely do like packing the hampers the most – it’s like grocery shopping. I like interacting with the people that come here to get the food.

Is there anything you want to share with the community about House of Friendship? (Good or bad!)

What a lot of people don’t see or realize is that a lot of thought goes into what we give out to the people who come here for food. We try to balance out their diet; we try to give as much fresh food as possible. We are very accommodating, for example, if you have a gluten allergy everyone knows about it. When you think of going to a food hamper program you assume it’s probably going to be just junk or prepackaged foods handed out but that’s not true here. A lot of the stuff that they give out here has a lot of nutritional value to it. We are so blessed because we get farmers or people who grow things and donate it, which is awesome. And we also have treats once in a while where we get delicious organic foods or really good meats. It’s such a wonderful program that you would think your choices are limited but they’re not when you come here. They really do the best that they possibly can to make it so that you’re eating really good nutritious food.

What keeps you busy when you aren’t here? Are there any other programs that you are or have volunteered with?

I volunteer at the Buddhist temple, I have two jobs – doing real estate and working for a start-up –  and I help take care of my two nephews who are five and three. All my spare time is spent with them and teaching them. If I could teach my nephews one thing it would be to value women. It’s really important to me. My brother and sister-in-law work ridiculous hours so I try to fill in whenever they’re not free.

Do you have any favourite moments or experiences here?

Every day is a totally different new learning experience. There was a volunteer here, his name was Mike and he was very sweet. I got to know him, we used to take our breaks and do hampers together. He was a very nice guy. I didn’t even know that he was sick and I hadn’t seen him since January. All of a sudden a few months ago I was working and I noticed that all the volunteers were so sad. I asked what was going on and then they pointed to his obituary that was posted in the paper. He had passed away from cancer. I was so devastated so I went to his wake and I met his family.

One of my favourite sayings is from a movie I just saw: everything you touch touches you. I feel like when you’re here you are with people who are like minded and want to give back. When you’re surrounded with people like that you absorb that as well and it makes you a better person. I definitely feel like meeting Mike has made my life better.

There are many reasons why I admire Tawn, including her willingness to make time for her family and community despite her busy schedule; her insistence on doing good for others in order to create a positive flow of energy; and how easy she is to talk to! Furthermore, her outlook on life and people is quite intriguing – she is all about deeply connecting with others, and living in the here and now. Add all of that up, and you can easily see how much she contributes here, how much of this community has her fingerprints upon it, and why we so enjoy coming to work on Tuesdays!

Volunteer Profile: Karen

August 19, 2015

[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.

Difference and Repetition at Food Hampers

August 13, 2015

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

Now that you have some background knowledge of our operations, I want to discuss different aspects of the program that I have noticed over the course of my time here. This work has patterns, and at the same time, each day is unique. To get a variety of perspectives, I spoke to Jesse, who coordinates volunteers and does intake; Raymond, our distribution coordinator; and Luke, one of our many dedicated volunteers.