Posts Tagged ‘Introduction’

Allow me to introduce myself…

May 17, 2012

Hi everyone, my name is Erin and I’m the new intake worker here at the House of Friendship’s Emergency Food Hamper program. Let me introduce myself. I just graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University, and after taking five years to complete my degree I’m happy to be out of an academic setting. I’m an avid community gardener, and I’m interested in food security issues in Waterloo Region, Ontario, and beyond. I’m also interested in the politics of food security; how decisions made in government affect people’s everyday lives, and how they affect access to such a fundamental necessity as food.

I’d like to share some of my impressions after one week at the Emergency Food Hamper program. First of all, I’m overwhelmed by the friendly atmosphere created by staff and volunteers at the House of Friendship. So far I’ve enjoyed every day at work, and I’ve felt welcomed onto the team. It’s humbling to be working with some volunteers who have been here for five years, or over a decade. I knew coming into the position that the Food Hamper program was volunteer-based, but I continue to be surprised by the sheer volume of people that donate their time on a regular basis. I can see why they do it too, the people here are great to be around.

I’m also happy to be lucky enough to work for a program that is in line with my values, and whose philosophy I can firmly support. Through my training it has been repeatedly affirmed that the Emergency Food Hamper program is based on trust; if people come in to receive food, we trust that they need the food. There are no extensive background checks and we limit the amount of personal questions people must answer. When people living on low income seek aid—in the form of food or other resources—the process is often accompanied by feelings of shame or low self worth. This program tries to make the experience one of respect, and limit the stigma attached to seeking food aid.

I’m looking forward to continuing to share my experiences on this blog as I learn more about the program and about local food issues. I know the next few months especially are going to be a learning experience, and I’m anticipating a fulfilling journey. If you come into the program as a volunteer, donator of goods, or a consumer, I look forward to meeting you!

One bowl at a time

December 8, 2011

Lately we’ve tried to share a basic ingredient for soups with all of our hampers: Campbell’s beef broth. It’s a perfect time of year to receive this type of donation because the days are getting colder and we’re all looking for inexpensive and satisfying meals to help keep us warm. Also having soup broth available allows people to make their own soup creation, instead of eating the various canned soups that we typically have on hand.

The soup broth was offered before people left with their hamper. but since many people are unfamiliar with how to use soup broth we included recipes tip sheets to help people learn ways to use this great ingredient. These tip sheets included anything from substituting soup broth for water when cooking vegetables or rice, freezing in ice-cube size portions to add moisture when re-heating leftovers, or recipes for homemade soup. But we’re not the only ones trying to share the warm feeling of soup with the community.

Janet Uffelman, Sandi McCrory, and Norma Weiner are the Soup Sisters. These women are working hard to bring more soup to Waterloo Region. After attending a social evening out in Toronto, for another branch of the Soup Sisters, these wonderful women decided to start a program branch of their own.

Their not-for-project project got off the ground near the end of September, after they were able to establish a partnership with The Culinary Studio. Now these girls are in full swing of producing many bowls of soup each month. Each bowl of soup is prepared in a state-of-the-art professional kitchen by people who are learning to develop their passion for cooking, and by those who are trying to pass on their acquired skills.

Their culinary efforts are going to support Reaching Our Outdoor Friends (ROOF) and Marillac Place. Both of these agencies are trying to provide shelter, supportive services and advocate for youth who are struggling with a variety of issues and seeking a better future for themselves and/or their children.

If you’d like to get involved in supporting of the work of the Soup Sisters, you can attend one of their evening events for a cost of 50 dollars. The evening runs in the style of a cooking class where participants will produce approximately 150 to 200 bowls of soup. But that’s not where the fun ends! After working hard to create all this soup, the evening will follow with the enjoyment of a light meal and a wine tasting. For information on booking an event, please click here.

However if you’re not able to attend one of their events, there are other ways to support the work that the Soup Sisters are doing. To find these, click here. And just remember: each donation, small or big, is one bowl closer to another satisfied belly in our community.

A big move

November 21, 2011

Some of us know the struggles and challenges that are associated with moving to a new province or city, but can you imagine how much harder it would be to move to a different country? Here you’d be surrounded by a new place where you potentially know only a handful of people, and need to find a place to live and a source of income. It’s no easy task; so often many social service agencies refer new Canadians to our program to help them transition and settle into their new life in Canada. Sometimes after a few hampers they’re able to move on and support themselves; but sometimes they find themselves in a more challenging position than when they first arrived. To give you an idea of this, here’s the story of Sophia:

I remember going to Emergency Food Hampers as a child, but I never really knew or understood what it was. I remember coming with my siblings and we would enter this “store” and fight over all the toys and stuff in the lobby. We thought it was so cool that you didn’t have to pay for anything…My parents came to Canada a long time ago, but never used House of Friendship until they started having kids. It was just the two of them, but quickly our family became seven people. As our family grew I remember my dad began staying at home. My mom said he wasn’t able to work anymore so we would receive some help from disability benefits. My parents told us that our family wouldn’t have a lot of money, but we’d always find a way to work through it. I never remember my parents being stressed or feeling that our family was poor. My mom was the only one working and providing for the family. With only a high school diploma, my mom could not find a good paying job that would adequately support a family of seven. She worked night shifts, often with over-time. But I knew it wasn’t enough sometimes; otherwise there was no reason for us to come to this program. 

Sophia’s story is not unique. Often many patrons bring their children with them to get a food hamper because they can’t afford or don’t know anyone to watch their children. Also this is one of the few chances that these parents can say “yes” to their children when they ask if they’re allowed to take that toy or pair of shorts home.

Think back about your own childhood.  The world was a pretty complicated place and you always had a lot of questions for your parents.  How would you ask them about the food bank?  Would you have been able to understand how hard it is to ask strangers for help?

If you were able to, would you be able to explain to your 8-year-old self what it’s like to struggle to balance the household finances and do the things you feel most “normal” families do, like visit the restaurants your school mates do, go on trips, and have the right clothes to fit in?

Many people who turn to us are working one way or another to make ends meet.  Today, this often means the night shift, temp work and a handful of very part-time jobs.  How do you handle that fluctuation and unexpected circumstances? It’s hard to save and plan ahead for the future because some of the over-time pay money always goes to paying down the hydro or water bill, car insurance, or dentist.

At times you get ahead but then quickly things change where you have almost no hours at work again and the bills keep coming. Work is unpredictable, but your education limits your options on where you can work, and your English is not the greatest to write a resume to even apply for another job. But if you did apply elsewhere and got a job, your family can’t wait until any new medical benefits kick in after a few months.

Luckily Sophia’s family has medical benefits. Many people accessing our program work at part-time or temporary employment positions and don’t get the opportunity to receive any health benefits. However, saving on this expense still doesn’t put them in a better situation.

Many families scrape by most months, so it’s unlikely that there will be any savings for retirement or college funds for any of the children they may have. If they work hard and get the grades some of them may be able to earn scholarships to help pay for the increasing costs; or some may get bank loans or OSAP  in order to secure a job that may deliver better future.

In the mean time, we will be here to help when things get tough.

Living in a teeter totter

October 3, 2011

Life is full of ups and downs. When things are looking up, it’s great. But when they fall down, the challenges can sometimes be too much to bear. It’s especially difficult when you’re thrown into a pattern of traumatic and stressful events. It’s a real test of will and strength, and often very easy to fall in a position of needing help. Overcoming these falls can be harder than you’d ever imagine. Once the bills pile up it’s hard to know if you’ll ever get caught up.

Balancing between paying the rent and buying groceries is hard. I haven’t been able to keep a steady employment record so I never should have tried to afford an apartment on my own. Rent is really expensive! I’ll probably have to move into a rooming house. I’ve done that before. It wasn’t so bad – but it wasn’t great either. But it’s better than Mary’s place or some other shelter. I just like having a space to call my own…I use to own a house with my husband. Well ex-husband. After three stillbirths our marriage dissolved. We had a lot of problems and I never really got over being an alcoholic; but we did manage to have one child survive. And after many years I’ve decided not to drink. I want to be a good role model for my son, Trevor. He’s a miracle! Trevor was two pounds when he was born nine weeks premature. He went three weeks with no amniotic fluid. My water broke and then I delivered three weeks later. Go ask any nurse and see if that’s possible…Unfortunately I haven’t seen a lot of my son though. Around the time that my husband divorced me I had a breakdown. So Trevor lived with his father while I spent some time in a psychiatric hospital. I’ve been in and out of those places; trying to take care of my son whenever I could. But Trevor doesn’t really want to spend a lot of time with me. I’m not sure I want to see much of him either. At the age of seven he started abusing me just like his father did…But he’s my son and I love him. I’m trying to be a part of his life; but it’s hard. He’s in trouble with the law. So now that I’m out of the hospital, it’s likely he’ll be going to jail. It seems like he’s always in trouble – and I’ve told him I won’t give him the money to help out. Normally I would. I’m the type of person who will give you whatever you need if I have it. If you came to my door needing bread, you’d have half a loaf if I had it. My mother always raised me to share and help others. We were raised with the values of the church and to acknowledge something bigger than you or I. I’ve always believed that God will send someone to help whenever needed.

Think of this as your story. Take a second to reflect how you’d feel in this situation if Trevor was your son.  What if you were Trevor?

While your son is pushing you away, you’re trying to form a relationship with him. You know he doesn’t care what you have to say or share your values; but you want to be a part of his life. Actually you need him to be a part of your life because family support and love is often what separates you between experiencing another mental breakdown or not.

Yes he’s frustrating you because he’s making all the wrong decisions in your eyes, but you can’t stop dwelling on the fact that he’s family and you love him. But how much longer can you watch him make these decisions? You know his bank account is running low because few people will hire someone with a criminal record. So what will you do when he doesn’t have the money for his court fines or lawyers fees? Although you want to help, unfortunately you’re financial situation isn’t much better than his. You continually struggle to meet your basic needs such as rent, utilities and groceries. But at least you’re willing to access various programs for supports; Trevor refuses to talk to strangers about what’s going on in his life because he feels they wouldn’t understand.

At least he’ll talk to you though. Well it’s more that he just stops by when he needs something. You think he may be abusing your good nature, but you can’t turn him away. You’ve tried sending him back to his father but he refuses to tell him anything. You suspect it’s probably because he doesn’t want to suffer the same physical and emotional abuse that he knows you went through. His father has the money to help him, but is it worth the abuse that you’ll both endure? Your ex-husband continually blames you for all the problems Trevor has.

But no one is to blame here. Unfortunately your life has been filled with a what feels like 10 life times of hardship that have been almost impossible to overcome. Each day is filled with a new challenge and sometimes it’s hard to catch up.

A common sentiment from our first time volunteers is how being here for a while reminds you of all the things you should be thankful for.  This post is the last of a short series of stories from some of the many people we serve.  They are the result of a lot of the hard work that our two summer students Leah and Jessie did over the summer trying to connect with people and get more of their story.

Though each story is complex and different in its own unique way, each shares the same basic theme: no money, no food, and no other option. Fortunately House of Friendship is available to provide a limited amount of support, but it’s often not enough. Each day the patrons of our program are facing more problems than just not having enough food. Turning to food banks is just one of the few options for relief in many individuals’ lives. By accessing a food hamper they’ll have a few moments of peace before needing to worry about having enough food again. Maybe then they’ll have the time to focus on one of the many other struggles and challenges they’re facing in their lives.

What we hope you take away from each of these stories is a little spark of empathy and a desire to make at least a small change for the better in our community.  Consider volunteering, donating, or talking to people and politicians in the upcoming provincial election on October 6th.

What a party

September 30, 2011

When Sara approached the counter to register for a food hamper it was very clear that she was uncomfortable. As I talked to her she told me that the crowds were making her uncomfortable. She doesn’t like to be around a lot of people even on a good day. And lately she’s starting to forget what a good day feels like.

My fridge never stays full long. I have five teenagers at home, plus my husband, Robert and I. My kids never feel full – no matter what they eat or how much they eat. I never thought I’d be spending this much on groceries. I always grew up having enough money to buy whatever I wanted; but now I barely have enough money to buy all the things we need. And it’s not going to be any easier now that my best friend, Amy moved in. She was evicted from her apartment after not being able to make her rent again. She told me it’d be temporary until she can get a full-time job again. But I knew she wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for her bad-tempered boyfriend, Josh mouthing off to his employer. He deserved to get fired for it. But doesn’t he care about paying the rent? It almost seems like he doesn’t care how he’s hurting Amy. I’m not a fan of Josh but I know Amy loves him and she’s a close friend. So I agreed to let them move in with me for a bit because I couldn’t live with the idea of her living on the streets. And she won’t go into a shelter because they won’t be allowed to be together.
Now they’re going to be staying with me for a lot longer. Recently Amy was in a terrible car accident. So Robert and I are trying to make the best of our even fuller house. As if things weren’t busy enough we’ve got two more people to sit at the table everyday. Our house is a big party, except without the fun. Sometimes it can be hard to have friends. You don’t want to turn them away but it’s not easy to take them in when you don’t have a lot to spare.

Imagine being at Sara’s table even before getting a food hamper. Since there are so many people in the house and barely any income to cover all the expenses it’s more than likely that you’ve been eating a lot of cheaper foods like rice, beans, potatoes and pasta – all the starchy foods that aren’t necessarily the healthiest choices but make you feel the fullest. These might not be the foods you’re craving at the end of the day; it’s just all the grocery budget can afford so that everyone can continue to see food on the table.

Now that Amy and Josh are living with you things are even tighter. No one wanted to give their identification to register for a food hamper program. They have a lot of fear and uncertainty. They’ve never had to come to a food bank before. But what other options are there? How many more days can everyone skip eating a meal? As a parent, how many more times can you listen to your children tell you there’s nothing to eat? There’s a clear choice: go hungry or ask for a food hamper. Which would you do?

Everyone is anxiously waiting for you to come home. And you can’t wait to get out of our building. This is an experience you never imagined living. But you know that this food hamper means so many different things: you’ll have the money to pay the rent and other bills, and you’ll also all be able to eat dinner for the first time in a few days. Then we call your name.

You thank the volunteer who packed your hamper after giving you the food hamper. But before packing the boxes in your car you take a second to look through the food that you received:

This is a hamper that we packed for a family of seven people.

You’re thankful for what you’ve received but you can’t stop thinking about a few of the things you were hoping to see. There are no eggs or cheese…the kids won’t really like that cereal…and I’ve never cooked cabbage before. And wait, what can the kids take as a snack to school? You’ve got a million questions and thoughts running through your head. Plus you know once you get this stuff home the kids will impulsively want to eat a lot of the items, especially the pretzels and cookies. How can you ask them to wait? This food is all you have until your child tax benefit comes through in a few days.

This food is a blessing and a challenge all in one bundle. You’re going to have to adjust your cooking habits and food preferences a little because what other choice do you have? You could spend a few dollars from your bank account but then your hydro may be cut off because they won’t let your overdue charges run much higher. If you still have a phone setup, you can look forward to the inevitable collection agency calls. Then how do you explain that to the kids? Finally you decide that you’ll find a way to mange through the food because a little sacrifice now will bring better things in the future. Hopefully.

One mitten short of a pair

September 27, 2011

It’s not uncommon for some people to cycle in and out of our program. Often they have spurts of good luck where they’ve got a good job that leaves them with enough money to pay the bills. But then, just as each of our stories demonstrates, life throws some type of curveball to put them back to square one and in a place they never expected to be.

After 23 years of marriage my wife (Taylor) lost her battle with cancer. Losing her has been one of the hardest experiences I think I’ll ever face. I lost my mind for a while. With the grief of losing the love of my life and my best friend I barely want to get out of bed most days. But I’m slowly taking steps to re-building my life one piece at a time. I started going to counseling and got put on some medication to help my depression. This is helping me to accept that things will never be the same. It’s not easy to lose someone. Life doesn’t stop though. I’ve got to make the best out of the worst situation. Slowly I’m learning to cook, do laundry, and to clean the house while remembering to pay the bills. We were a great pair but now it’s just me.

Some days you probably come home wishing that the chaos would stop. Well what if it did? Think about it as if Taylor was your partner. You were there to drive to various appointments, carry them upstairs to bed at the end of the night when they’re too sick to walk, and been there to wipe away all the tears. Now who will wipe away your tears? Who will be there to support you through your struggle?

Not only does this situation put you in emotional turmoil but now you’re in financial stress. You’ve lost part of your income, since Taylor isn’t around to collect a pension anymore. Plus you’ve had additional expenses to cover the cost of the funeral, since you never had the money to save for it in the past.

Now your life has changed in a way that you never would have expected. You’re likely going to rely on food assistance and other social service programs until you can come to terms with the loss of your partner and figure out your finances again. It’s a big adjustment that you never wanted to plan for, but now you’re left without a choice. You’ve got to find a way to adjust to your new situation and pay the bills.

So in the mean time we’ll see you pass through our doors from time to time. We’ll hope that the food hamper will provide you with all the things you’re use to having available at home. And if not you’ll have to try to scrap together the money from somewhere, access another program, or simply go without. You know food banks are working on donations, which means sometimes certain items aren’t available. Either way you know it’s better to have some food than no food at all. That’s really your only choice in this situation; because let’s face it: the creditors and bills won’t stop just because your wife passed away. Instead you’re left to continue fighting to meet your basic needs and hoping that one day soon your struggle will come to an end.

Getting down to business

September 23, 2011

Ontario is a province with a wide variety of employment options for a number of people. Each day many people go in to work never thinking they’ll be injured. But as the statistics show, this reality is closer than many of us would think. Let’s take a second to look at some of the facts:

  • Annually about 300 people die and nearly 270 000 more file workers’ compensation claims due to a work related injury or illness. (Source)
  • Each year over 10 000 Ontarians under the age of 25 submit a claim after an injury leaves them unable to return to work for a few days. (Source)
  • In 2008 alone, Ontario reported 488 fatalities and 317 031 claims for work related injuries and illnesses to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). (Source)
  • The injury rates of workers may be much higher because many workers don’t bring the injury to the attention of their employer, or the employer doesn’t submit a claim to WSIB. (Source)

Unfortunately Ronald is living proof of these statistics. After an injury at work, he’s waiting for his claim to be approved by the WSIB board. So in the mean time he’s coming to our program for assistance. It’s likely that he’ll use the six visits we offer in a year within the next month or two; because his family is without an income for a few weeks and can’t wait that long to buy groceries.

I’m a father and husband to a family of five. When people learn that I’m using a food bank they always ask “how did that happen?” or look at me wondering why I can’t find a job to provide for my family. Well I was working at a factory and had 800 pounds of product fall on me. Now I’m lucky to be alive; but it hasn’t been easy. It took the doctors eight years before they realized that the intense pain in my back meant that it was broken. No one would believe me, so it was hard to get any type of compensation. I struggled to convince the doctors that there was something wrong…and when they finally got the medical proof they needed, I was immediately booked in for a surgery. After that my back healed to the point that I was able to continue working at a different job. But as my luck should have it, I had another accident at work and here we are again. As hard as I try to put food on the table, something eventually gets in the way. Then we need to come here for a food hamper until we can figure out where our next paycheck is coming from.

Put yourself into Ronald’s shoes, this is your story now.  After your accident you aren’t even able to work light duty at any of your old jobs. Each one was very labour intensive and your employers are less than understanding. As a result you have now burned through the little amount of vacation pay you had accumulated; and neither job gave any paid sick days so now you have no income.

On top of this your extended family doesn’t support your decision to not return to work after your injuries. Many of them stopped visiting over a year ago because they didn’t want to hear you complain about the injury the doctors couldn’t find. To date, no one has responded to any calls or emails that the doctors finally discovered your back was actually broken.

What do you do? How many weeks could you go without a paycheck? Who would you turn to for help?

It is no surprise that Ronald was directed to our program for assistance. But his family will likely need help paying for school supplies, buying the kids clothes, and paying their rent at the end of the month. So to do all of this Ronald now has a new “job”. His job is to shuffle through the phone book and talk to a variety of people who will point him in various directions to find the services and support he needs to get through this difficult time. Though he may use the 211 services to find the right direction, he’ll still be left at the end of the day with a stack of papers from a variety of social service agencies that he’s come in contact with. And his family can only hope that each agency visit will bring them another step closer to the end of this unfortunate limbo between incomes.

Where it all begins

September 13, 2011

Take a second to imagine this situation:

You walk up to your car to find everything is thrown around. Sadly your car has been broken into. Even more distressing is that you left your wallet, which contains all your identification and a few hundred dollars that you just took out of the bank to pay some bills and buy some groceries. You only left for a brief minute to drop something off to a friend; but it was long enough to throw your life for a loop. Though you wish you could start putting this behind you and go to the bank to pull out more money, there isn’t any left. That money was all you had left between now and your next paycheck that’s over a week away.

Unfortunately this “imaginary” situation actually happened to Andrew.

Andrew in the middle of a streak of bad luck. He’s already borrowed money from his family to cover his bills a few months ago. His family didn’t want to give him the money; but also didn’t want to see him on the streets. They agreed to help him just that once. He’s asked for money since and been turned away each time with the advice to work harder or manage his money better.

Because money has been tight for Andrew he’s drifted away from some of his friends. They always want to go out for dinner, a movie, or golfing – nothing that Andrew can afford after paying his bills. He still knows that he’s got debts to repay to his family, and also some of his friends. However of the one or two friends he does still manage to stay in touch with, they often ask him to loan them cash from time-to-time, which he knows they’ll never be able to pay back.

So now what does he do when there’s no one to fall back on? His current job isn’t giving over-time so there’s no way for him to get ahead. He’s put out resumes to take on a part-time job but no one is willing to hire him. And switching jobs isn’t much of an option because he can’t wait a few weeks for another paycheck starts, let alone, take the time off work to go to an interview. Thus coming here for food assistance is Andrew’s last resort.

When your expenses don’t go as planned, or you encounter a situation you didn’t expect, food budgets suffer first. Food is the one expense that doesn’t have a fixed value. Though you know how much money it takes to feed yourself or your family for a week, it doesn’t mean that the amount of money is always available. Therefore it’s not surprising that a significant number of people accessing our program carefully plan out their six visits a year in their food budget.

Stories like Andrews are in abundance at our program. Though the beginning of the story is different for everyone, where it all ends is the same: here, or a similar program.

This post is the beginning to a series. Each story and person is connected to the same basic problem: no money, no food, and no other option. Next in the series Matt will talk about our intake process and what it actually looks like to get a hamper. Following that we’ll provide you with a few more glimpses of the many beginnings that bring people into a situation of needing food assistance. By the end you’ll probably be surprised at how many similarities you have with Andrew, or any of the other stories that we’ll highlight.

Volunteer Spotlight: Erv

June 30, 2011

When I asked Erv to do this interview, he was stocking our bread rack so that the hamper packers would have bread to put in the hampers. I told Erv that I would wait until he was done and he could come and find me. I had a feeling that Erv doesn’t like to leave a job unfinished. He often comes in very quietly and gets straight to work. He told me that he and his wife had their own office supply business called Mr.Stationer for 25 years, before that he worked at another office supply business, this was all before the bigger office supply stores came into the community. Erv has been volunteering with us once a week since the end of March and it’s been a joy to have him here. (more…)

Volunteer Spotlight: Rob

June 15, 2011

On a quite afternoon I found a job for Rob. Nice rhyme eh? Well I’m not as funny as this volunteer so I’ll leave the jokes to him. I’ll stick to what I’m good at – introducing the volunteers and sharing some of the interesting facts and quotes that they shared with me.

Rob is a remarkable volunteer with a long history here. He started volunteering back in September of 2006. Yet the more amazing part is how much he’s grown here and the amount of hours he’s been in this building, which is totaling somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1 800 hours!! But I don’t want to give away too much more of his story because he tells it better. So here goes…

How did you hear about House of Friendship?

“My tenant at the time was volunteering or getting assistance here. I decided I wanted to try volunteering for the first time, especially since I live close to this location. Here’s a funny story though: when I walked down the driveway somebody outside told me that this place wasn’t looking for volunteers. I almost walked away but then I thought I’ll leave my name anyways. Well when I walked in the Volunteer Coordinator was happy to set up an orientation with me. In the end I’m glad I didn’t listen to the person outside.”

We’re definitely glad you didn’t listen because we’re often always looking for volunteers. Maybe not right away, but a spot usually opens up within the next few weeks. Anyways, why is volunteering important to you?

“The way I see it is that if you want to be happy in life you need to take your mind off yourself and use that time to make others happy.”

How has volunteering made an impact in your life?

“Working here has helped me learn a lot about people. I use to work in factories and construction but never with the public. I enjoy being face-to-face with all the different family sizes and cultures.”

To read more about how we accommodate special diets, please visit this previous blog.

What’s your favourite job at our program?

“Irritating the staff! (We took a break to laugh and share some stories)….Really I enjoy the variety. When I started I was bagging food and doing odd jobs in the warehouse. Then after about two years I wanted to learn to pack hampers. Now when I come in I like that I can jump back and forth to help out with whichever is needed more.”

Note: When Rob started no one would have guessed that he’d be packing hampers one day. He had such a quiet nature to him at the beginning; but over the years we’ve been fortunate to see him come out of his shell. All the positive reinforcement really has paid off to build his confidence, and add a member to our hamper packing team. 

What kind of activities or hobbies do you enjoy when you’re not working or volunteering?

“I chop a lot of wood because I try to heat my house with a wood stove through the winter. Doing yard work keeps me busy in the summer too. I enjoy camping. Other than that I don’t think I’m that exciting – probably because I’m too busy being here.”  

Well Rob we always appreciate that you’re able to commit so many days a week to us in a pinch between finding a new set of volunteers; and that you’re “on-call” to save us when other volunteers call in last-minute! I can’t even count how many times you’ve just stopped in to make sure we have enough volunteers too. It’s extraordinary how much you care about helping the many families and individuals who need our program. I don’t think we can say thank you enough or that thank you even covers the amount of gratitude we have for you! You’re tremendous and we’re so glad that you’ve been a faithful volunteer for all these years. THANK YOU!