Posts Tagged ‘the power of volunteers’

Volunteers Are The Roots Of Strong Communities

April 15, 2016

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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

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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…)

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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…)

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…)

50 Years of Sharing in Our Community

December 1, 2014

Since 1964 House of Friendship has been sharing the gift of food with its neighbours in need during the Holiday Season. A great many people have, over the years, been the specific parts of House of Friendship, doing the specific work involved in making sure folks in our community get Christmas hampers and toys.

Tony is one of the many dedicated Christmas hamper workers, whose steady and ongoing commitment to the Program keep it running smoothly, and growing!

His first experience with the Christmas Hamper Program was in 1977.

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Service, in style, as always.

 

“I think back then it was in the basement of a store on Krug Street. That year we maybe gave out about 800 hampers. Linda Worth was directing things, she was the only staff person, at the time she was the director of the Hostel, and Live and Learn. House of Freindship was pretty small at that point. At the time I joined other volunteers in delivering food. Volunteers were and continue to be the main reason why things get done here.”

A few years later, Tony got a job at House of Friendship after graduating from the University of Waterloo and was once again involved in Christmas Hampers on the staff side of things. Over 35 years later he is still here and each year has the privilege and challenge of setting up and running the program with a team of volunteers and staff. (more…)

Where Will You Go, If You Walk With Others In Our Community?

November 28, 2014

“House Of Friendship remains committed to working with our community and walking with our most vulnerable members to ensure we pursue long-term solutions to homelessness, poverty, addictions, and mental health.”

John Neufeld, HOF Executive Director


Welcome to my walk with House of Friendship, my name is Marie Morneau.

My walk started some 13 years ago when my daughter Rosemarie started to volunteer at the Kingsdale Community Centre. Back then we were in portables, not the big beautiful building we have now!

Six years ago my husband Denis and I started to help by volunteering at Kingsdale, on Wednesdays. Denis drives the van to the Food Bank and brings back a load of food to Kingsdale, where we repack it and put it away. On Thursday we take that food and set it up for distribution between 1:30 and 3pm for people residing in the Kingsdale area. (more…)

What do Volunteers, Early Explorers And Food Hampers Have in Common?

November 17, 2014

House of Friendship Volunteers enjoy a recognition dinner and presentation in their honour

It is hard to get the volunteers of the Emergency Food Hamper Program to slow down and take a break. Nonetheless, once a year we manage to convince about 80 or so of them to sit down together long enough to enjoy a meal and to be recognized for the distance that they go for the people of our community. (more…)

Volunteer Spotlight: Betty

May 8, 2013

Betty

Betty is one of our regular Monday volunteers, along with her husband John. For them, volunteering here is a family affair—their son Matt is the volunteer coordinator, and their daughter Bethany used to work at intake. Betty is clearly dedicated to the work we do here. You can find her doing whatever is needed, either getting her hands dirty sorting donations that come in or packing hampers. She also has great friendships with fellow volunteers—one week she hears someone say they like lasagne, and the next week she brought in a whole lasagne for everyone to share!  I managed to tear her away from sorting bread to sit down and ask her a few questions.

How did you hear about House of Friendship?

I heard about it through my son Matt, the volunteer coordinator at the food hamper program. One of my friends also used to live in Sunnydale and she told me all about the community centre there and the House of Friendship.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

It makes me feel good to help people, and I enjoy working with the other volunteers. Everyone here is kind of like family.

What’s your favourite job at our program?

I like sorting through food orders we get from Loblaw’s, I like doing it all. Here we took a break to laugh about what we call the yogurt test—when we get tubs of yogurt in our Loblaw’s order many didn’t survive the trip. To see whether or not they’re ok, you have to squeeze them. If they’re fine then you stay clean, otherwise you could get covered in yogurt!

How has volunteering impacted your life?

I look forward to Mondays! It’s fun—I even come by on other days if Matt needs some extra help. I feel like I’m helping people when I’m here.

Is there one experience you’ve had here that you remember?

It really affects me if it’s someone’s first hamper—I’ve had experiences with men and women where they cry when they come in. It really touches me. I usually give them a hug and try to give some words of encouragement.

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

I used to volunteer with Live and Learn at the House of Friendship, with mom’s and young kids. I used to babysit full time, now I only do two days per week, but I love working with children. I also volunteer with our kids program and Sunday school at church.

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

I love doing jigsaw puzzles, sewing, and cooking. I cook for the people who run our kids program at church once per week! I also sing in the Laurier choir with my sisters, that’s just something I do for me.

We’re glad that Betty makes time in her schedule to volunteer here, along with all the other things she’s involved with. She’s a big help because she enjoys doing so many different things. Thanks, Betty, for including all of us at food hampers in your extended family!

National Volunteer Week: how far have we walked together?

April 26, 2013

Imagine you are sitting in your family room watching your favorite show on TV.  It’s the commercial break, and your stomach rumbles.  It’s been a long day at work and you’re tired.  Is it worth it to walk all the way to the Kitchen and fix yourself a snack?  We’ve all been in the state where your will and motivation to get up and get moving is definitely lacking.  Sometimes it’s hard to fight the inertia of exhaustion.

Do you have a child?  If so, you’ve probably found yourself in that horrible situation where you’ve gone for a walk, and their favorite stuffed animal, which was clutched tightly in their arms at the start of the journey, has somehow been left behind along the path.  I’m sure you’ve spent many a frantic moment at the grocery store looking for your child’s favorite stuffed animal that they simply would not leave at home.  How far would you go to find something for someone you love like your child?

When your little one grows up will they remember you going the extra mile? Probably they will later in life, if they have children of their own and they’ll understand how you would gladly go an extra 1000 miles for your family in a heart-beat.

Now, how many miles would you walk, metaphorically or otherwise for a stranger?

Last year, our volunteers packed over 33,000 hampers for families in need. Now that is a lot of food assistance going out on a daily basis. A while back at the food hamper program, a few of us were trying to think of ways to help people wrap their heads around how many hampers 33,000 really is.  As we’ve written about in the past, understanding big numbers can be difficult. How can we possibly communicate to volunteers how much work they’ve done as a team, especially during National Volunteer Week?

A picture is worth a thousand words, as they say, and one way we thought of to help us share the significant amount of work our volunteers accomplish was a simple racetrack, on which a mascot (chosen by popular vote) would race around. So how does this work? Well every time someone packs a hamper here, they walk in a circle around some central shelves and tables, shaped like a race track. The starting line is the meat freezers, and once they get in motion, they go on to potatoes, vegetables, soup, pasta, race past the tomato sauce, fruit, peanut butter, rice, beans, baby items, bread, then coolers stocked with milk, yogurt, juice, and extra items. The finish line is crossed once they get to the window where they pass the hamper off to the family who is receiving it. We measured how far a walk (or run) it is from the beginning of the circuit to the end, and it measures approximately 20 metres. When you multiply 20 metres by how many hampers we pack, our volunteers have traveled a long distances to get food to complete strangers!

The hamper racetrack hanging in our warehouse. As the apple moves around the track, it means we've packed more hampers and walked a longer distance.

The hamper racetrack hanging in our warehouse. As the apple moves around the track, it means we’ve packed more hampers and walked a longer distance.

At first, I didn’t realize just how far we have gone together, but then we did the math. When we’ve packed 5000 hampers, that is the equivalent of 100 kilometers. When we’ve packed 5700 hampers, that is the equivalent of 114 kilometers, or the distance from our program at 807 Guelph Street to Queen’s Park in Toronto – a feat which we had already accomplished by mid-February of this year. After 23 900 hampers, we will have packed so many that between all of volunteers they will have walked the equivalent of here to Parliament Hill in Ottawa (we will likely have covered this ground by the end of the summer or beginning of the fall).

As volunteers pack more hampers, we multiply the hampers by the amount of distance walked per hamper. To help volunteers understand the impact each day volunteering with us has, we then move our little mascot, Amos the Apple, around the track to mark how far we’ve walked. The racetrack is a visual representation of how hard volunteers work together. Every year, when put together, we walk over 600 kilometers together. For me, the racetrack is also a reminder of how many families in our community need food assistance, and that there is still a long way to go before we eradicate poverty and achieve food security for everyone.

Thanks to our incredible volunteers who walk with us and our program participants each day, and who go farther than they realize.

Volunteer Spotlight: Ken

April 24, 2013

Ken

Ken is one of our regular Monday volunteers. He comes in at 8am and stays until the truck is unloaded and the work is done—and he’s done this for almost 13 years! You can always tell when he’s in the warehouse if you listen for whistling or singing—Ken has a song for just about every situation. Mention your favourite herb and he’ll start singing Simon and Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair.” Talk about your friend named Layla and he’ll sing the chorus of Eric Clapton’s song by the same name. He has a great attitude when he’s here and some great friendships with other Monday volunteers, so it was nice to get to know a little more about Ken.

How did you hear about House of Friendship?

I  think I learned about it through church, but I’ve just known about it for a long time. When I retired I knew I should give back to the community and they hired me. Helping people with food is near and dear to my heart, it’s great outreach.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

I enjoy the people I work with here, even Bob! Just kidding, Bob is one of the reasons I show up here. I have great friendships.

What’s your favourite job at our program?

Coffee break! Just kidding. I like unloading and stocking shelves, or helping wherever I’m needed. Packing hampers just isn’t my thing so I help out elsewhere.

How has volunteering impacted your life?

It provided structure in my life when I first retired, and it’s continued to provide structure. It’s also part of what we do as a church community, it’s just part of our ministry. Before I retired I was a teacher and an educational consultant.

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

I volunteer with church as well, right now I sit on the hospitality committee.

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

I’m in a hiking group with friends. We’ve hiked the whole Bruce Trail six and a half times, and have covered over 8000 kilometres together. We go all day every Wednesday. We always try to learn something about the nature along the trail. I’m an elections junkie too—I work for elections Canada and elections Ontario.

We’re glad you’ve chosen to keep coming to volunteer here as part of your weekly routine, Ken! Thanks for taking the time to share a little more about you.

National Volunteer Week: how our volunteers build community

April 22, 2013

“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” –Marjorie Moore

Marge and Mark take a quick break from packing hampers in the warehouse.

Marge and Mark take a quick break from packing hampers in the warehouse.

This week is National Volunteer Week, and for a program like ours that relies on volunteers to run at all, it’s a pretty special one. A few weeks ago when I was looking for inspiration for volunteer week, I came across the quote above, by Marjorie Moore. As a self-admitted political junkie, I love the quote, and I love the idea that people can work together to create a place where they feel at home. Our volunteers come in every week (or in some cases, every day!) for their shifts—so what keeps them coming back? I think what draws volunteers in is that they feel a connection to and a passion for the vision of the House of Friendship: creating healthy communities where all can belong and thrive. So, what does that kind of community look like, and what values are volunteers voting for with their hours here? I have a few ideas.

A community that believes in the right to food

The first thing I see volunteers ‘voting’ for is a community where everyone has a right to food. Everyone here is passionate about feeding people, and about creating healthy hampers. When we don’t have fresh veggies to put into hampers for people I hear volunteers lamenting the fact that the hampers aren’t as healthy as usual. White bread is always left to the end, and whole wheat goes into hampers first.

Ursula bags up some mushrooms for hampers.

Ursula bags up some mushrooms for hampers.

Volunteers like Val are excited about ‘selling’ produce people may not know how to cook, like cabbage, turnip, or papaya. They recognize that if you live on low income it can be hard to afford healthy items, and they want to give people nourishing food their family will enjoy. Every day I see excited volunteers going through recipes with people getting food, even writing down tips to send along with them. Volunteers like volunteering here because they are drawn to food issues in some capacity. Like our volunteer Sherry said, “I volunteer here because I like helping people with their food.”

(more…)