Posts Tagged ‘volunteer’

We Need to Support Local Artists #12daysforgood

December 11, 2014

12 days for good creativity


Day 4 of 12 Days for Good: Creativity

by Wendi Campbell, Executive Director of the Food Bank of Waterloo Region.

Things that people may not know about me – I am crafty and creative.  When I have the time I’ve been known to sew a pillow, I love to arrange fresh flowers, and will someday finish decorating our house.  I like homemade and the effort that goes into creating something from scratch.  One of my favourite things to do is find unique local art for gifts and for our home.  When we travel we try to find something locally crafted to remember our trip.  For gifts I often find myself at the Clay and Glass Gallery picking up glass, pottery, jewellery or cards.  I love the Waterloo Potters Workshop– not just because of a fabulous fundraiser they run for the Food Bank (Empty Bowls – May 2015) but because I can serve soup in something that was made in my community.

Today I share my passion for local art and will be making a donation to the Creative Enterprise Initiative (CEI). CEI is working hard to bring investment and recognition to our community, through the investment of time, money and professional skills in creative endeavours and small to mid-sized creative organizations that are ready to take their work to the next level. It is this approach to creative placemaking that will benefit our entire community.

not made in china

A vibrant community includes traditionally defined arts and culture and we need to support local artists – help them to become sustainable through their work – let a pillar of our economic development and success be support of a vibrant arts and culture scene.  Check out the website as an example of the work that Creative Enterprise is doing in our community to support the development of the essential community pillar and then check out some of the fabulous art organizations, artists, galleries and think about how you can incorporate into your holiday giving.

You can follow Wendi’s good deeds and creativity on Twitter

Creativity doesn’t wait for that perfect moment, it fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones << TWEET THIS



Opportunity? Pass it on! #12daysforgood

December 9, 2014

12 days for good opportunity

Day 2 of 12 Days for Good is all about opportunity. Think about the many opportunities you’ve had: growing up in a safe environment, being supported in your education, meeting people you developed warm and lasting relationships with…  today is the day to pay it forward. See how you can give someone else an opportunity today by visiting one of our community partners: Extend-a-Family Waterloo Region, Project READ, YWCA of Cambridge and the YWCA of Kitchener-Waterloo, and Waterloo Region Child & Youth Connection. Find opportunities where you volunteer. Learn about the many new opportunities just waiting for you in Waterloo Region…

Today, Kelly McManus, Senior Director of Community Relations at University of Waterloo, will share her take on opportunity.

The Opportunity to do what you lovekelly mcmanus

I’m grateful that my jobs have never just felt like jobs.  Making a difference in my community AND a paycheque – how awesome is that?!  Over the years, I’ve worked with amazing volunteers, donors, service providers and elected officials to mobilize time, treasure and talent.  The common goal?  Simply, to build a strong community for everyone.  I’ve been especially passionate about food security, supports for newcomers, and – as a mom to a super cool eight year old – making sure that all kids get the best possible start in life.

The Opportunity to lead

These days, in my role leading community relations at the University of Waterloo, I get to showcase the ways that our students, faculty and staff make a difference as leaders, volunteers, mentors, and champions for change in our community and across the globe. From volunteerism and philanthropy to research and student initiatives, I’m excited to share some of these examples throughout the 12 Days for Good.

The Opportunity to share the good with family

You’ll also hear about how I’m helping my son to become a do gooder too! This year, we’re working on understanding that the holidays are not just about what he gets under the tree on Christmas morning.  And, this year, after some unexpected changes in our family life, it’s especially important to remind both of us about hope, healing and the power of connection.

Find out more about Kelly and the good she shares on Twitter

Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us everyday. << TWEET THIS

You can also read: House of Friendship Encourages Good Deeds via the Waterloo Region Record for ideas on how to share opportunity today.

Today I Share Compassion #12daysforgood

December 8, 2014

12 days for good compassion

Today I Share Compassion #12daysforgood

At first, it may be hard to pinpoint compassion in our community- to think of one news story, to single out just one person, one group, one organization and say ‘Aha! There! There is compassion’- it isn’t an easy task. In part, it’s hard to put such a fine point on compassion because the truth is, in Waterloo Region compassion is so woven into our daily lives, it’s become part of the way we do business.

In Waterloo Region, we have countless events throughout the year that celebrate people who demonstrate a strong desire to help. We actively encourage corporations and nonprofits to work together and we celebrate their successes. We’ve developed special programs to help volunteers deepen their engagement here. Maybe that’s why we have amazing people like Jessica Kuepfer in our community. Jessica’s a return Do-Gooder for 12 Days for Good who shows great compassion for the health of our community.

jessica kuepfer 12 days for good

I love living in Kitchener-Waterloo because there are so many opportunities to help, to serve and to be fulfilled within the community. I am particularly focused on the nourishment of my community which is why I am involved in the annual House of Friendship Potato Blitz which collects potatoes and money for the food hamper program. I also am a strong supporter of NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) because mental and physical health are bound together.


Find out more about Jessica and the good she shares on Instagram, twitter and her website.

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” << TWEET THIS.

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.

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!

Volunteer Spotlight: Martin

April 17, 2012

Martin has been volunteering at the Emergency Food Hamper Program (EFHP) for just over a year now, giving over 90 hours of his time to this food assistance program.  Martin is passionate about food, and this program seems to be a natural fit for him.  It was great to take a few moments to get to know Martin and what he does when he is not volunteering at the EFHP. 

How did you hear about House of Friendship?

I was looking to do some volunteering in K-W and I read about House of Friendship on the Volunteer Action Centre’s website.  I thought it would be a good fit for me since I currently work at the Loblaw’s distribution centre in Cambridge.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

I find that since I began volunteering I get more value from myself.  I find myself utilizing my days a lot better.  I don’t work until 3:00 pm, so coming here in the morning keeps me active.  I find so much value from volunteering here; not only am I keeping busy with something to do, I am also able to help people who are in need of food assistance in our community.

What’s your favourite job at our program?

I enjoy stocking the shelves.  I like this because I can just come in and get started.  I don’t need to be told what to do; I just do it.  I find that everyone works together here as a team.  If I ever have any questions, I don’t hesitate to ask for clarification.

How has volunteering impacted your life?

I have found that having something to do with my mornings has given me more motivation to keep active when I am not working.  As a result of volunteering and working with food, I have become increasingly interested in gardening.  This summer, I am starting a garden with a friend of mine.  I have a tray of 204 seedlings that I will plant at the garden.  I am excited about this opportunity!

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

The gardening project that I have undertaken will be keeping me quite busy in the coming months.  I am also working with the Program Coordinator at the EFHP to start a compost program.  With this project, I am visiting a number of farms in the area to see how they are composting.

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

I enjoy being active and outdoors.  I like biking, skiing, gardening and camping.  I did a lot of camping last year at some of the GRCA parks, and I plan to explore some of the parks in the Halton Hills area this summer.  I am also looking into spending a week volunteering at a farm near Listowel.  I find that I learn the most from face-to-face interactions with people, and not from just doing an internet search.

It sounds like you have some exciting adventures ahead of you!  Thanks for your ongoing commitment to the Emergency Food Hamper Program.  We are looking forward to the design and implementation of the compost program here!   

Volunteer Spotlight: Jessie

February 29, 2012

Jessie has been volunteering at the Emergency Food Hamper program since September 2011, but involved with House of Friendship for some time.  To date, Jessie has volunteered over 45 hours to the Food Hamper Program.  Jessie was a summer student at the EFHP, and we are so thankful that Jessie decided to become a volunteer after the placement came to an end.

How did you hear about House of Friendship?

I worked at the Emergency Food Hamper Program as a summer student in 2011.  In that position, I helped with intake, packing food hampers and going with one of the drivers to pick-up food donations.  It was this experience that encouraged me to continue my involvement with House of Friendship.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

I really enjoy coming in and helping out wherever I can.  I just love helping people, and seeing them smile when they get their food hampers.  I also like coming in to see the staff and volunteers that I have gotten to know over the past several months.

What’s your favourite job at our program?

My favourite job is packing the food hampers.  I like to see what goes into a food hamper on a given day.  I especially like to see what desserts are going into the hampers because I’ve got a real sweet tooth.

How has volunteering impacted your life?

Just seeing how many people come in for food has made me aware of the need that exists in our community.  I have also found that I have become more food aware in the sense that I really try to not waste the food that I have.

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

I volunteer at a few different places in Kitchener Waterloo.  I am involved with Community Justice Initiatives, where I go into the Grand Valley Institution for Women to help with some activities there.  I also do some talks with the women who are going to be moving back into the community.

For the past four years, I have been involved at the Canadian Mental Health Association, working one-on-one with someone.  I also spend some time at Ray of Hope, acting as a mentor to the youth there.

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

I am in the midst of completing my undergraduate degree at the University of Waterloo in Criminology and Sociology.  In my spare time, I love to catch up on all of the television shows I watch.  I love to eat sweets, especially anything chocolaty.  I also try to spend as much time with my friends and family as possible.

Thanks for sharing with us, Jessie!  We are glad that you can fit us into your busy weekly schedule!   

Volunteer Spotlight: Leonard

December 7, 2011

Leonard has been volunteering at the Emergency Food Hamper program since January 2010, giving over 250 hours of his time.  In 2011 alone, Leonard has already volunteered 90 hours!  Leonard has such a willingness about him, helping with whatever is needed in the warehouse.  Thanks for your continued commitment to the EFHP, Leonard!

How did you hear about House of Friendship?

“I heard about House of Friendship through someone I knew through my doctor.  That guy had volunteered at the Emergency Food Hamper before, and recommended that I give it a try.”

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

“I love it here.  I look forward to coming here every week.  I love knowing that what I am doing here is helping people who are in need in our community.  It makes my day.  The people that volunteer here are all unique in their own ways, and I have enjoyed getting to know them.”

What’s your favourite job at our program?

“I can usually be found stocking the shelves in the warehouse, but I like to help with other odd jobs.  I am really used to stocking the shelves, I know where everything goes.  It took a while to figure where everything went, that’s for sure!”

How has volunteering impacted your life?

“Volunteering is very important to me.  It just seems normal to me.  I am so happy that all four of my children are now actively volunteering at different organizations.  I guess you could say it is in our blood!”

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

“I am retired now, so I have more time for volunteering.  I volunteer at the hospital, helping people find where they need to go.  I also volunteer at the Salvation Army, sorting through the clothing and other donated items.  On occasion, I volunteer at the Red Cross, helping to package supplies to be sent overseas.”

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

“I love to spend time with my grandchildren.  I also enjoy playing cricket and soccer for fun.  I get a lot of joy from travelling to new places.  Some of my favourite places I have travelled are Europe and Asia.  I would love to live in Europe.  A few years ago, I was able to travel to five different countries in Europe.”

Volunteer Spotlight: Brian

November 23, 2011

I asked Brian if I could do a volunteer spotlight on him, and little did I know that he would prepare his own set of notes for our chat!  Brian has been volunteering at the EFHP for over 4 years now, devoting 670 hours to the program thus far.  In this year alone, he has volunteered over 150 hours!  Here’s what Brian had to say:

How did you hear about House of Friendship?

“When I was in a difficult situation, I stayed at one of House of Friendship’s programs for a few days.  That is where I heard about the Emergency Food Hamper Program, and that they needed volunteers to help in the warehouse.  I have been coming on a weekly basis ever since.”

 What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

“I enjoy the people that I get to interact with here.  I like that I am able to get out of the apartment, and that I am doing something meaningful.  It gives me a sense of satisfaction knowing that what I am doing is helping others.”

 What’s your favourite job at our program?

“I enjoy a lot of jobs here.  My specialty seems to be bagging the bulk rice.  I used to work in the cooler, but I prefer working with the rice.”

 How has volunteering impacted your life?

“Volunteering has made me feel more secure within myself.  It is a nice outlet for me.  It keeps me busy doing things that I have grown to love doing.  I have the opportunity to meet lots of different people who are coming from all walks of life to volunteer here.”

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

“I used to volunteer with the Kinsmen Club, usually helping to run the charity bingo that the club would put on.”

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

“Over the past few years, I have really gotten into music again.  I have developed a habit of playing my acoustic guitar on a daily basis.  When my friends come to visit, we always seem to make time to jam together.  I have an eclectic taste in music, and enjoy the variety that I hear on CBC Radio 2.  I do a lot of walking.  I also visit the Kitchener Public Library on almost daily to read the newspaper and do some daydreaming.”

Thanks Brian for taking a moment to share with us about what has kept you coming back here week after week!  Your lively personality keeps us entertained with each story that you tell.  You really keep us on our toes!