Posts Tagged ‘goodbye’

What I’ve learned in a year at the Food Hamper Program

May 10, 2013

After almost exactly a year of working here, today is my last day at the Food Hamper Program. I am sad to leave the staff and volunteers here as I’ve formed some great friendships and learned a lot about the KW community, but I’m looking forward to new adventures, including travelling this summer and going back to school in September.

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I’ve learned a lot in the year that I’ve been here. Here are some things I’ll take away from my time.

There is no one kind of person who needs food assistance

I’ve learned that there is no one kind of person that comes to a food bank—there is a huge diversity of people who need food assistance, and they have taken many paths to get here. Many people face barriers to finding work and thus having an adequate income due to discrimination. Perhaps they identify as transgender, are a recent immigrant or refugee, or have a disability. I’ve learned that no one is on social assistance because they’re simply ‘lazy,’ but that there are a multitude of reasons people live in poverty, ranging from the kinds of jobs available to a lack of affordable childcare to health problems. Each person has their own story of why they are at the food hamper program.

The way we treat people living on low income needs to change…now.

I’ve learned that the way social assistance is set up helps no one, and a dollar added to social assistance is more than a dollar saved in other areas. I’ve learned that poverty and health are so closely intertwined that I’m not sure you can talk about one without talking about the other.  Most importantly to me, I’ve learned that eliminating poverty is the logical thing to do, not only from an ethical but from an economic standpoint. It makes far more sense to give people an adequate income and save money elsewhere in the system, especially in the health care and justice sectors. I have hope that others think this way. Though there is a long road ahead when it comes to poverty elimination, there are a lot of dedicated people making very good cases as to why poverty should be a priority for all levels of government moving forward.

I’ve learned all about foods I never knew existed

We receive all kinds of food donations. Before working here I had never seen chayote squash, bitter melon, chinese long beans, or lychee fruit. Now I could tell you what their main nutritional qualities are and how to cook them!

I am disappointed to leave the House of Friendship because it’s an organization I believe in. I’m proud of that the organization has decided to speak up on important issues, and advocate for a more just society. I decided to work here in the first place because, though I don’t believe food aid should have to exist, the program’s philosophy was in line with my own. I believe people coming in for food aid should not be policed, or asked invasive questions about their household finances. I’ve been lucky to be able to visit other House of Friendship programs and learn about the community building and advocacy that goes on at our community centres and residential programs as well.

I’ve been so privileged in the past year to work with dedicated staff and volunteers who believe in the program like I do, and who are working every day to create the kind of community they want to be a part of. I’ll miss it here.

HOF Family: 807 to 75

April 24, 2012

Today I’m full of a mixture of emotions for a variety of reasons which basically leaves me torn whether to be happy or sad. I’m sad that this will no longer see all of the familiar faces at Emergency Food Hampers (one a regular basis), talk to many people in need of food assistance, and do many other familiar tasks. Yet I’m also happy because people have shared so many kind words and wishes to encourage me on my new journey that will be starting soon. Yes after four incredible years with the food hamper program I’ll be saying farewell to this program and be welcomed by a new House of Friendship program: Charles Village.

I recently accepted a position as the Community Support Worker with Charles Village. I’m excited for many of the new things I’m about to learn, events I’ll plan, people I’ll soon get to know, and challenges I’ll be helping to resolve. However each time I think about this new and exciting journey, it brings me back to the memories I have of the first weeks and months here at food hampers.

When I started at food hampers I was overwhelmed with a new group of amazingly friendly volunteers each day, and a group of supportive staff to help me learn the various operations that happen within the building each day. I remember hearing people talk about doing 160 hampers and it being such a chaotic day of non-stop movement. Unfortunately now 160 feels like a standard or steady day now that we do with little to no issues, and days where we serve over 200 are manageably chaotic it seems.

Also when I first started I had no idea how little some people could live on and how creative so many people are forced to become to make their money stretch. In my span of responding to requests for food hampers I’ve heard more stories than I can share in a reasonable amount of space about struggles people face each day. Because of the transitions and experiences I’ve begun to discover how much there is to poverty and low-income and it’s opened my eyes to many struggles I didn’t even realize existed in the “small” Kitchener-Waterloo region. I feel fortunate that I was given the opportunity to learn about some of these things here.

But I’m not all smiles looking back on the changes in myself and the program over my time here. One of the reasons I’m probably saddest to leave is because I’ll be leaving behind a group of volunteers that have all touched my heart in various ways. Though each of them has shared nothing but positive and happy words, it doesn’t make it any easier to know that I won’t see many of them again. Everyone leaves a job saying they’ll be back to visit, but few people really do – but I’m hoping to be an exception to that statement though. Everyone here at food hampers has grown to become part of my extended family. While working here it’s never been uncommon for many of us to share various aspects of our lives together each time we pass each other in the warehouse or sit down for a break in the lunchroom. And this also goes for many of the staff as well! Plus there are a few patrons who visit our lobby for extra bread or to browse through the clothes on a somewhat regular basis that I’ve shared a few conversations with from time-to-time in between quiet times at the front desk or while cleaning at the end of the day. Each person has had an impact on me that I’ll never forget and helped make me a better person. And I’ll miss them all so much!

So thank you so much to everyone that I’ve encountered here! I’ve learned so much from each and every one of you that it’s hard for me to put into words how this experience has really changed my life. But most importantly I hope everyone knows that I’ll always remember you – whether you were a faithful blog reader, a student volunteering for a short bit as part of your school requirements, part of the “seasoned chicken club” of volunteers, staff or patrons! And hopefully you won’t forget me either!

Farewell Food Hampers

August 27, 2010

Although I certainly haven’t been here as long as others who are saying goodbye (Michelle!), I still must express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to all the inspiring volunteers, staff, and patrons who have shared their lives and knowledge with me.  You have all shaped me to be a more passionate and informed individual, with a renewed drive to continue my university studies in poverty and development.

This summer has been especially important to me because, as someone born and raised in KW, I was painfully unaware of the persistent food insecurity that faces so many of my neighbours and community members. My four years studying International Studies at Laurier oriented my concerns toward the outside world; meanwhile, people from my school, my church, and my street, needed help surviving through their next week. Each day here has been both shocking and rewarding, especially the days when I stood across the counter from fellow students or patrons my own age. Their stories about financial or personal struggles will stay with me for the rest of my life, reminding me not only to constantly appreciate what I have but to share it with others.

Most importantly, my time here has drastically challenged my understanding of food banks and food banks users in the Western World. Programs such as the Emergency Food Hamper Program are not simply buildings filled with “free” food, but crucial resource re-distribution hubs, social havens for volunteers and struggling individuals, identifiers of gaps in social programs, and overall evaluators of community health and well-being. As long as I live I will continue to support the efforts of such crucial contributors to my community’s welfare.

I’m saying good bye to EFHP, but I’m not saying good-bye to understanding and working with KW food insecurity. Thank you all again for making this a life-altering summer!

The end is just the beginning

August 27, 2010

So my ten-week contract at the Emergency Food Hamper Program expires today and, technically, I am supposed to write a “farewell article”. But I don’t see this as a farewell, but rather, I see the end as just the beginning.

First and foremost, I never liked goodbyes. I think the word has been misused by so many people. We shouldn’t say “goodbye” to anybody unless it’s on the day that we leave this world, because chances are, with modern technology, you are likely to see the other person again sometime in life. Thus, I prefer to say “see you all later” to everyone who works at the hamper program.

The past 10 weeks working at EFHP has been excitement, fulfillment, and a incredible learning process. I want to thank all of the staff members and volunteers from the bottom of my heart. I want to thank Matt C., Michele, Melissa, Raymond, Matt G., Nadir, Anton, Salvador, Allison and Lianna for all your help, friendship, work ethics, and warm personalities. (more…)

Back to school…

August 27, 2010

Well, the summer has come and gone here at food hampers.  We know the summer is over when our summer placements are complete and our annual volunteer appreciation dinner approaches.

Thanks to our friends at Bethany Evangelical Missionary Church for hosting the party again this year.  Allison has been working hard at getting an excellent range of raffle prizes from local businesses and supporters and our freezers are full of tasty BBQ treats.  The date is set for next Wednesday starting at 5:30pm.  There is still time to RSVP!

Today is the last day for Lucas and Lianna who are returning to school. Look for their farewell posts soon.  Additionally, as posted earlier this week Michelle is taking a leave of absence to attend school.  We wish them all well and hope to see them again very soon.

Usually, we take a group photo when we have to say goodbye.  Thanks to a unique donation yesterday and Michelle’s photo skills we did it a little differently this time. Voila!

After working together for so long there starts to be a bit of a family resemblance