Posts Tagged ‘volunteer profile’

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!

IMG_0668 (1)

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…)

Gardens Grow Volunteer Engagement

April 24, 2015



This is the last post in a our week long series on the many gardens that have sprouted up around House of Friendship.  Aside from plants, there is a common thread that connects all of our different green endeavours together, and that is volunteers!

What better way to celebrate and recognize that amazing contribution than by sharing the words of Marlene, an all around incredible volunteer who was a dynamic presence at Supportive Housing last summer and fall.

She spent quite a bit of time working with tenants in the garden beds and kitchen, and shares some of her thoughts about what being a volunteer was like for her:

“Digging in the dirt, planting seeds, and watching things grow is every gardener’s delight. Last year, while digging in the dirt with House of Friendship residents, I had the opportunity re-visit the awe and wonder that comes along with seeing those little seeds sprout. We shared many laughs and chats while nurturing seedlings, creating new gardens and caring for mature plants.” (more…)

Volunteer Profile: Marg  

March 4, 2015

Marg has been volunteering with us for four and a half years and contributes in a beautiful way to our hampers team! She has logged 159.79 hours with us which makes her a part of the seasoned chicken club! Way to go Marg!!

Marg and Norm Warren

Marg and Norm, warming up for potato sorting

For hours on end Marg sorts potatoes with her husband to ensure that each family receives a good bag of potatoes. Every Wednesday, Marg helps out above and beyond potatoes.  I have watched Marg pay attention to anyone who walks through these doors and instantly welcome and offer her help to them. I have been inspired countless times by Marg’s, compassionate, kind and positive outlook on life. We are truly blessed here at the hamper program to have such a dedicated and well traveled volunteer.

How would you describe your life so far?

If I were to use some words to sum up my life they would include: A gift, joy, many rewards, experiences of god’s love, opportunities to share god’s love. There is always something new and exciting to discover. I don’t see the negative. I just see an opportunity to turn them around. I see humour in life and I see opportunities to grow from any hard experiences and not get bound into the negative ones.

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

I have been on House of Friendship’s board since 1996—that is 19 years! We have a passion for House of Friendship and believe in the mandate to help people realize their potential. We see compassion for people who are hurting. House of Friendship helps them turn it around. I want people to believe they are people of worth. They may not realize that they are indeed worthy. That is why I am here today at hampers.

Why do you volunteer here? Is it important to you?

It is my small way of doing what I believe in. Helping the community I live in. I appreciate the camaraderie here and the feeling of family. So the people draw me here: the staff , volunteers and the patrons. It’s a small way to give back and practise our values. We are in the background but I try to really “see” the people coming in here and let them know that they are seen. It is my way of serving god and showing his love.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

Everything and everyone! The best thing is being able to share this experience with my husband, Norm. That way we can reflect on our experiences and what we learn, together as a couple.

Is there anything you want to share with the community about House of Friendship that you think people may not know?

I don’t think that people really understand or are aware of the scope and impact HOF has on the community and how it impacts the infrastructure of the region especially Kitchener-Waterloo. I believe that the biggest impact is that of a caring hand. House of Friendship strives to see where the needs are and how to respond.

What keeps you busy when you aren’t here?

Well I volunteer for Nutrition for Learning as well as being involved with our church. I teach Sunday school and volunteer on the visitation team, which is a program set up to help elderly with friendship and support. I love quilting and quilt for the MCC relief sale; and I read, exercise and watch sports on TV. Norm and I travel together and also take great delight in spending time with our grandchildren. Family is very important for us.

Do you have any favourite moments or experiences here?

Just the overall feeling of caring that we experience! Norm and I often sort through rotten potatoes. Yucky potatoes don’t get in the way.  I have a need to make things as positive as I can. They don’t need to know what I went through to make their bag of potatoes better. They just need to receive a good bag of potatoes. There’s a lot of yuck in life but it doesn’t get in the way. It is always an opportunity to make it better!

Tell me something about yourself that we may not know!

We have a cottage on the native reserve in Ipperwash on Lake Huron. In solidarity with the native and the horrible oppression they have faced throughout the years. As a result we grow to better understand their customs and ideas and beliefs.  We have made friends up there and look forward to our times up there.

I also ran a girls and boys group while in university in Hamilton in the inner-city four nights a week for youth.

It impacted me with more sensitivity to other people’s circumstances. We need to be at one with all people. See what is like to walk in someone else’s moccasins.

I need to be challenged. Physically, mentally spiritually… I need to do the best that I can. Not better than you, I only compete with one person. Myself.

On my very first day I remember sorting potatoes with Norm and Marg. Marg asked me questions and genuinely cared and at the end of the day gave me a hug and made me feel like a part of the family. Her love shines through in everything she does and makes hampers that much more inclusive and welcoming. I will always remember that feeling of acceptance and sorting through those yucky potatoes, while chatting about travel, the world and our wishes for the future. 

Volunteer profile: Norm

December 30, 2014

Norm has volunteered at the food hamper program for over four years. He is kind and soft spoken, and his faith and his determination to better our community is truly inspirational. Your contributions have been noticed and are appreciated by many. Thank you Norm for all that you do, you are amazing!

Norm and Marg!

Norm and Marg!

 Why do you volunteer here? Is it important to you?

Some of the best things in our lives over the years have been volunteering. When talking about poverty one day while volunteering I was asked specifically by a 14 year old girl: What are you doing about it? My faith commitment is a major reason why I volunteer and help out in the community. This is very important to me. I feel that we should go beyond our work and go the extra mile for people. (more…)

Volunteer Profile: Jane!

September 29, 2014

For five and half—if not more!—hours every Friday, Jane helps to anchor our Friday volunteer crew. She seems generally to come with Luke, another Friday stalwart. Like others who have been profiled here, she possesses a kind and generous spirit, a willingness to truly engage with those around her and pitch in wherever needed.

But the fact that we have so many wonderful volunteers, who have wonderfulness in common, should not distract from the fact that each is special, their contributions unique. Since she started last April, Jane’s made many different contributions to our program, but more importantly, to the many families we support. When another key volunteer went on maternity leave, she jumped feet first into our “meat department:” our freezers are organized; our meat is bagged and weighed; and when a large family comes in at closing time with less-than-usual dietary requirements, nobody’s worried!

And though it’s harder to quantify (more valuable than 600lbs of Halal meat? 800lbs? All the Halal meat in the world!?) Jane’s infectious laugh and smile make this a happier, more vibrant place to be. In so doing, she models for us a way of walking with those we serve without judgment, and makes it easier for us to support our neighbors.

How did you hear about House of Friendship, and the Food Hamper Program?

I originally began volunteering with House of Friendship’s Christmas Hamper program, where I was in turn introduced to the Emergency Food Hamper Program. I also had a friend that previously worked with House of Friendship.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at EFHP?

One of the main things I love about volunteering here is the other volunteers. I also greatly enjoy working with our program patrons. Helping others brings me joy and happiness.

What has been your most memorable moment volunteering here?

It’s hard to pick out particulars, because we interact with many people every day. But it’s always rewarding when I have time to connect with a grateful patron and work with them as much as possible to meet their particular needs.

What’s your favourite job at our program?

I genuinely enjoy doing anything I can to help out. I mostly work with the meat now and if I had to pick one area I would say that this is my favourite because I get to learn new things.



Jane (and Candace) make sure everyone gets enough of the right meat–or vegetarian protein substitute–with a smile!

How has volunteering impacted your life?

I really get great satisfaction from being able to help others. I feel so blessed to be able to volunteer at this stage of my life. I just love working here. I also love that I am able to volunteer here with my daughter and partner and be able to share this wonderful experience with them.

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

In the past I have volunteered in areas such as the Aids Walk, Terry Fox Run, Manulife Ride for Heart and with my Church. Currently I volunteer at the Mennonite thrift shop every Wednesday morning where I work in the warehouse. I also volunteer with the Out of the Cold program one night a week from November to April where I work in the kitchen.

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

I greatly enjoy spending time with my family. My biggest hobby I would say is reading. I also love gardening in my garden at home.

Volunteers like Jane do a great deal of the wonderful community building work here, which makes it possible for us to support so many others in our community. Since she started, we’ve packed over 30,000 hampers (she alone has volunteered 310 hours!).  

 Thanks Jane!

Volunteers Profiled: The Band of Johns

September 22, 2014

Volunteers Embody the spirit of Sunnydale and House of Friendship

Many Canadians wake up early each Thursday to get ready for work. Such are my Thursdays this summer, but not everyone shares my schedule, not exactly anyway. I was fortunate to meet three wonderfully “atypical” individuals one Thursday at the Sunnydale Community Centre.

Their names are John Thiessen, John Paterson and John Wilken, or, as they prefer to be recognized, John 1, John 2 and John 3, respectively. Those numbers refer to their seniority as volunteers at the Sunnydale Community Centre. Each John is extremely different and together they form a sort of modern day Band of Robin Hood; the Band of Johns if you will. However, there is one major distinction between the two brotherhoods; unlike the Band of Robin Hood, the Band of Johns use donations and their time to aid those in need.  Their dedication to ensuring that the dietary needs of others are met, along with their compassionate and altruistic nature, shows through in all aspects of their volunteer work at Sunnydale. (more…)

Volunteer Profile: Luke!

September 16, 2014

It’s easy to say nice things about our volunteers. Though each is different, and brings special skills to our program, they are connected by their commitment to Food Hampers, and the fact that they have decided to donate–usually at least once a week–their time and energy to us. Without them, we would be unable to operate as we do. This is worth repeating: without them, we would be unable to operate as we do.

And though it’s easy to say nice things about our volunteers, it can be hard sometimes to capture the depth of their commitment and contribution to our program, and our broader community. This is certainly the case with Luke, who–if we didn’t make him go home!– might stick around till midnight, connecting with patrons and volunteers alike, providing steady support and understated guidance. No matter how busy we are, he energizes those around him, and challenges us to improve our quality of service. Since he started in April 2013 Luke has volunteered 335.5 hours, but that isn’t the half of it!



Volunteer Profile: Pauline!

September 4, 2014

Pauline started volunteering at the Food Hamper Program last October. Since that chilly afternoon she has become our on-call superstar, regularly coming in to help on short notice, despite being in school; and volunteering over 190 hours in the process! Pauline is obviously committed to our program: she goes to great lengths to get here, and when she’s here does whatever needs doing with a smile and a laugh.


I convinced her to sit down (and take a break—no small feat!) to chat about her time here…

How did you hear about House of Friendship?

My first trip to the Food Hamper Program was to pick up a food hamper. I also knew of some other people who had used the program and then applied to see if I could start volunteering here.

Is volunteering important to you? Why?

Yes! And for lots of reasons. By volunteering here I am directly giving back to this community, which has at different times supported me, and that feels good. I wanted to make a contribution like this to the community.

At the same, volunteering has impacted my life in important ways. When I started here I was in a depressive state, but program staff and other volunteers welcomed me, and as I’ve settled into this space I’ve increasingly felt valued, and been a valuable part of this program.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

The people, and being part of something that supports others. Like I said, staff and other volunteers welcomed me so warmly, and sincerely, that I’m always eager to return. I also really like connecting with folks who are here for a hamper, and trying to meet their specific needs, especially when they have kids. I try, when I can, to pack the best hamper for each family, and you’d be amazed how a bit of special attention can go such a long way. A few smiles stick out in my memory, reminders of the value of small acts of kindness and consideration.

What’s your favourite job at our program?

All of them! I spend lots of time packing hampers, but that is really just a small part of what goes on here—the last, most visible step in a much larger project. That being the case I’m happy to sort food, clean, or get in Raymond’s way—to make him smile, of course! Whatever the day requires.

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

I’ve helped out with my kids’s sports teams and with the Optimist and Lions clubs of Kitchener and Stratford, but this is my first regular volunteer experience.

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

Many of my waking hours are spent at the arenas of southern Ontario with my daughter’s ringette team. Or reading, playing baseball, swimming and biking. I like to keep busy!

In closing, Pauline re-stated her commitment to, and affection for the Hamper Program. As she put it, “I’ve so obviously loved coming here that it’s convinced some of my friends to join me!” Her infectious enthusiasm brings joy and humour to the Food Hamper program—which is great, because we’ve packed over 25,000 hampers since Pauline started volunteering here!

Volunteer Spotlight: Mark G.

November 11, 2013

Most every Monday and Friday, Mark G. bikes down to the Hamper Program. He helps out in a variety of ways: packing hampers; processing meat; and finishing up snacks left in the break room! All are appreciated, and to show a bit of our appreciation I sat down with him recently to talk about his work here.

How did you hear about House of Friendship?

I go to Stirling Mennonite Church in Kitchener. John Neufeld (HOF’s current Executive Director) also attends Stirling, and every once in a while I’d hear about House of Friendship from him. He got me started here at Food Hampers in 2011, and I’ve been coming ever since. (As of my writing, Mark has volunteered over 235 hours here!)

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

A number of different things, but maybe most important are the relationships I’ve developed with other volunteers and staff here. I really enjoy working with Matt, Raymond, Jesse, Wanda, Candace, Val, Rolf, Oscar, Pickles, Connie, Ursula, Daniel, and whole bunch of others! All these people form a community doing good work, which is fulfilling to be a part of.

What’s your favourite job at our program?

Working in the meat department with Candace is always fun. Otherwise I like to do a variety of different jobs, but I often end up packing hampers. The hamper packing job gives me funny and cute stories. Sometimes packing hampers is hard, but I remember in particular one very cute little girl who sweetly—but persistently—asked if we could give her broccoli and celery. These moments stick with you.

Pretty much every ounce of meat that goes through our program has Candace’s (gloved) fingerprints on it. She processes meat with many of our other (clean-fingered) volunteers–like Mark!

How has volunteering impacted your life?

It has fulfilled it. When I feel down I try to remember those moments, and think about the fact that I do have work that helps many in need.

Are there any other programs that you have volunteered with?

Not yet. (He is after all quite busy here!) In the near future I hope to volunteer at The Village of Winston Park, a retirement home in Kitchener. I’d like to play piano there. Most of my favourite pieces are from the late romantic period, or the early 20th century, for example Maurice Ravel’s Scarbo.

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

I compose and play music, specifically classical. I compose on paper, and also on my computer. I also like watching—and chasing!—severe weather systems, and learning Portuguese (aprendo portugues) so that I can speak with some of my Brazilian Portuguese friends. Last but very much not least, I play video games, meaning, of course MINECRAFT!

Thanks for sharing, Mark. As of 21 October 2013 we’ve served 26,160 hampers, and we couldn’t do it without volunteers like you!

Volunteer Spotlight: Mike C.

September 16, 2013

Mike C photo

The best sports teams depend on positional players: good pitchers, quarterbacks or goalies. But the same teams also depend on “utility players.” These highly capable men and women play a range of positions at a high level, filling in where needed. Mike C is a superb utility player on the EFHP team, contributing since the day he signed his (volunteer) contract in January 2010. When I tracked him down for this interview he was packing two hampers at the same time—half an hour after he was scheduled to go home for the day. An hour earlier he’d been up to his elbows in cabbage, sorting a big donation.

HOF: How did you hear about House of Friendship?

MC: I started packing Christmas hampers in 2009. From there I learned about the Emergency Food Hamper Program. [Like the EFHP, the Christmas Hamper Program is one of House of Friendship’s “Community Services,” and has provided a gift of food to families and individuals living on low income since 1964.]

HOF: What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

MC: Lots of different things. I appreciate and enjoy helping others, and using my free time in a constructive and positive way. I’ve also had plenty of opportunities to develop relationships with volunteers and Program patrons, who come from all walks of life. Working alongside these good and interesting people continues to be rewarding.

HOF: What’s your favourite job at our program?

MC: Everything! [HOF scouts confirm this response.] I enjoy packing hampers, bagging and sorting fruit, and stocking the shelves. Whatever is required that day.

HOF: How has volunteering impacted your life?

MC: I’ve been dealing with a medical condition over the last few years, and volunteering has helped me recover in a number of important ways. I had to take time off work, and coming in to the EFHP has helped me res-establish a normal schedule. By working here I’ve also regained a lot of my strength and endurance, which has been great for me. Finally, my time here has been educational. I’ve learned about the EFHP, but also about the needs in our community. Some days I barely get to sit down, we are so busy meeting those needs.

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

MC: I’ve coached minor hockey in Waterloo four different years, from tykes up to Bantam rep. I grew up playing hockey in Waterloo, and AA baseball.

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

MC: I am an avid sports fan, especially the Blue Jays and Kitchener Rangers. [HOF scouting reports confirm this as well.] I also love playing sports, and in addition to hockey and baseball, I bowl and golf. [I had to ask, but Mike finally admitted that his bowling high score is 356!]

At this point, Mike had to get back to work, and of course I couldn’t keep an All-Star on the bench! Thanks for pitching in whenever and wherever we need you Mike. Your hard work and positive attitude help keep the EFHP team on the right track. We’ve served over 23,000 hampers already this year, and it’s only possible because of volunteers like Mike.