Posts Tagged ‘volunteers’

Crossing the Bridge and Seeing the Reality of True Compassion | #12Days4Good

December 8, 2016

Crossing The Bridge

I like to think of myself as a compassionate person. I’ve volunteered my entire life, cared about and supported a variety causes, and been known as a sort of ‘Save the (fill in the blank)’ type. But over the decades I’ve noticed that my view and expression of compassion is not only ever changing, it is also never entirely perfect, complete, or ‘full’.

In a compelling TEDtalk ‘The Power of Connection’ (that further shifted my ideas around what being compassionate truly means) Hedy Schleifer recounts how she would visit her ailing mother who was in a wheelchair and hadn’t recognized her daughter for months. After time, Schleifer realized that during her visits she was not truly visiting her mother. She was visiting with grief. She was visiting with guilt. So she decided she would cross the bridge from the world of her own emotion, leaving the place where she was struggling, so she could go to visit with her mother. When she did this, her mother recognized her.

Hearing Schleifer’s story challenged me to think of the ways I do not always stop to cross that bridge and how often our compassion is expressed without learning about the rich landscape of others. It’s an idea that is crystallized for me in the 12 Days 4 Good campaign, when we are called not only to give and do good but to pause and reflect more fully on the ways in which we do that.

How can I make my compassion more full?

How, as Schleifer describes, can I listen to others as though I am learning a new language, the language of another?

There’s an intimacy to compassion that calls on us to learn, to understand and to know more fully the journeys, challenges and humanness of the people around us:

  • knowing as much as we can about the organizations we support and the people within them
  • spending time with the people our actions impact through service, volunteering, and mentorship
  • having conversations about the needs in our community with people who are doing the work
  • setting aside our assumptions, stereotypes, and judgments to learn about issues from another’s perspective and experience
  • being willing to do things that are needed, rather than just convenient

-By Jane Barkley


Seeing the Reality

Compassion can be expressed in so many ways. For people like myself, I find that my compassion for others is not easily expressed in ways that others relate to. It does not mean I don’t have or don’t feel compassion – it is a daily, and hourly (if not more) emotion that affects my actions all the time.

I learned from my parents what compassion is. I did not always understand the reason why they did all the extra they did for just about everyone, but as I became an adult, I got it. We are here to make this world better. When we see someone that is in need of something you have, well… you share it. Every little bit helps, just by caring and investing in those around you.

Compassion is about seeing the realities of those around you. Not as how you would see them, but as how they would see them. Understanding and feeling the vulnerabilities, the fears, the challenges that these people have to face. When I take a moment to do this, the next thing I do is ask myself what can I do to help?

-By Darrick Hahn


12 days 4 good day 1

“Sympathy sees and says ‘I’m sorry’. Compassion sees and says ‘I’ll help’” TWEET THIS

Jane Barkley and Darrick Hahn are today’s featured Do Gooder (pair). To learn more about them and the 12 Days 4 Good campaign visit

807 Recipes From Our Community

December 5, 2014

Emergency Food Hamper Program House of Friendship via Wordle

Today I am happy to share a collaborative project that the staff and volunteers of the Emergency Food Hamper Program put together to celebrate their work and their common interest in food.

It is a short cookbook of favourite recipes, and recipes from some of our friends.

We hope you enjoy it!

In the comments feel free to share some of your favourite recipes!  We are always looking for a new way to incorporate a new ingredient into our weekly menus at home or try something completely new!

To download the .pdf copy of the book, click on this link here: 807 Recipes from Community

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…)

A plot of our own

May 14, 2013
Dan tilling the garden with a rototiller on loan from the Working Centre

Dan tilling the garden with a rototiller on loan from the Working Centre

Inspired by the fantastic weather and by other gardens popping up around town, yesterday 807 staff and volunteers got our own garden ready for the year! We took plots we’ve gardened in the past but have grown a bit neglected and made them over into ready-to-plant beauties.

Matt and Raymond shovelling manure to work into the soil

Matt and Raymond shoveling manure to work into the soil

Since the gardens are shaped oddly, they aren’t really conducive to individual plots. Plus, it’s hard to grow many vegetables because we have a groundhog living right next to the garden who loves eating fresh vegetables.  Instead of planting vegetables, we are thinking of putting in nice perennials and herbs for everyone to share. The idea would be that everyone in the area can come by and snip a few herbs for their dinner. We’d have some markers indicating which herbs are which, and a display inside explaining good uses for them.


Volunteer Spotlight: Betty

May 8, 2013


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!

Volunteer Spotlight: Ken

April 24, 2013


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.

Volunteer Spotlight: Val

April 10, 2013


Val has been volunteering at Food Hampers for a year now, but it feels like she’s been here forever because she fits in so well. She has something called chronic fatigue syndrome, but you wouldn’t know it by how much energy she has when she comes in–she’s always chatting with people and catching up with her fellow volunteers. She loves explaining new foods to people who use the program and trying to get them to try things they haven’t had before. My personal favourite is whenever she talks a bachelor who hates vegetables into cooking cabbage! She has also been known to drive people home with their hampers if they’re having trouble accessing transportation. It was great to sit down and learn more about such a dedicated volunteer.

How did you hear about House of Friendship?

I bumped into my dear friend Betty who also volunteers at the Food Hamper Program. I was in a severe depression at the time and told her I had nothing to do during the day, and she recommended I try it. It stabilized my life.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

I love the diversity of people I work with and getting to know everyone. I love relating to the people we’re serving and trying my best to meet their needs. It’s great to be able to help.

What’s your favourite job at our program?

I love packing hampers! I like finding healthy treats for the kids, and helping  parents try healthy options like whole wheat bread instead of white. I tell people to make their kids sandwiches with one slice whole wheat and one white until the kids are used to it, and then make the full switch. I love giving people tips so they take healthier things. Feeding another person is an intimate act, and people are very defensive about what they eat, but most are open to suggestion too.

How has volunteering impacted your life?

Volunteering here has brought me out into the world again because I was very isolated. With my health concerns (chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia), I pulled further and further away from my friends. It’s very difficult to maintain a social life when I feel exhausted and my brain feels foggy all the time. I think humans have a need to be needed, and if that need involved food, then I’m there!

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

I’ve volunteered at the library taking books to seniors, with the Out of the Cold program, and in the nursery at church.

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

When I’m feeling up to it I love ten pin bowling (I’m useless at five pin). I also play darts at the legion. I love reading, especially crime novels set in the Victorian era or Agatha Christie. I grew up in England and my first love is the ocean.

I really appreciate Val taking the time to talk about her life. Her dedication and enthusiasm are infectious and brighten the mood wherever she is. Thanks Val!

Volunteer Spotlight: Ursula

June 18, 2012

Ursula has been volunteering at the Emergency Food Hamper Program since April, giving over 35 hours of her time to the program.  Ursula volunteers alongside two of her children each week, making Mondays a family affair at 807 Guelph Street.  We have loved getting to know Ursula in the past few months, and look forward to many more laughs together! 

How did you hear about House of Friendship?

I first heard about House of Friendship through my daughter, Connie (see her spotlight here).  She has been volunteering here for over seven years now and it sounded like it was something that I would like to be involved in.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

I like volunteering at the EFHP because it is something that gets me out of my home and helping people in need.  It is wonderful to be able to volunteer alongside two of my children and to meet all of the volunteeers at the program.

Since my husband passed away earlier this year, I have been quite lonely at home.  Before I had my husband to care for, but now I don’t, so volunteering has been a good way for me to keep busy.

What’s your favourite job at our program?

My favourite job at Food Hampers is bagging the fruit, but I am up certainly up for whatever comes my way.  I like it all!

 How has volunteering impacted your life?

Volunteering has given me something meaningful to do.  At home, I just sit and watch TV.  This volunteer position has given me a sense of purpose.

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

I haven’t volunteered with any other programs in the area.  I used to work at Dare Foods, packing cookies on the line.  It has been great to reconnect at the EFHP with a former co-worker, Sharron, who also volunteers here.

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

I like to read all different types of books, ranging from biographies to books about nature and animals.  My love for animals has me regularly watching Animal Planet on T.V.  Family is very important to me, so I love time spent with my 10 children, 21 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.

Thanks Ursula for taking the time to share a little bit about yourself with us!  We appreciate all your hard work bagging whatever bulk food items we bring your way. 

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 potato, two potato…

March 8, 2012

…three potato, four… five potato, six potato, seven potato… more! It is officially the beginning of March, which means that our annual February Potato Blitz here at House of Friendship has wrapped up its formal events. For most of February, the main office and many other HOF programs has been whirring with excitement and tasks to do in order to prepare for the three fundraising events that are held every year, during which people can donate either cash or potatoes to help us reach our 200,000 lb goal. The third and final event, the Community Potato Luncheon, was held February 24th at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church.

A few days before the event itself, Sandra (the head cook at the Charles Street Men’s Hostel) had begun talking with me about things that I could do to assist her on the day of the lunch. She had asked that I arrive at the Hostel at 8:20am on Friday morning, to help load up the cargo van with supplies and food. She had pre-warned me about the amount of things that we would bring from the Hostel; however, I don’t think I was expecting it to nearly be everything but the kitchen sink. There were pots, roasting pans, vegetables, nine pans of shepherd’s pie, napkins, potatoes for baking, potatoes for chopping, desserts and dessert trays, cream and sugar, aprons, tea towels…and that’s not likely even half of it. It was amazing to see how organized and thorough Sandra was in making sure we had everything we needed for the day. With the help of a few staff and a volunteer named Jeff who helped us throughout the day, the cargo van was loaded in minutes.

Then it was time to drive (carefully and slowly around corners, so as not to shift or spill the contents in the van) to the church. A few minutes later, Tony and I hopped out of the van and met a handful of people (hostel staff, Eby Village tenants and volunteers) to help unload the truck, and bring everything into the church’s kitchen.

As time quickly approached 9:00, volunteers came excitedly into the kitchen, ready to get to work. Hard-working and dedicated, Sandra had it down to a science, and literally had a job for everyone. Some volunteers immediately jumped into chopping vegetables, making vegetarian chili, cutting and buttering dinner rolls and filling water jugs to put into the cooler until it was time to put them on the tables. Others filled salt and pepper shakers, filled dessert trays, put table cloths on the tables before setting them and helped make soup. Volunteer Kelly Daly, who has made soup year after year for us, as well as his helper for the day – another woman named Sandra – spent the morning making delicious potato leek soup.

Bill, a volunteer who is dedicated to helping out at the potato lunch year after year, diligently peels potatoes to put in soup and other dishes. Thanks for your help, Bill!

Time seemed to fly by as we all pitched in to make the food for the event. There was light-hearted chattering and joking among everyone, happy to be working together again for another year’s potato lunch. At 11:30, Sandra gave us the okay to put water jugs on the tables, and soon after, mostly everything – except for the baked potatoes – was ready to be taken into the serving room. Around this same time our executive director, John Neufeld, entered the kitchen with his camera, snapping candid photos of the volunteers hard at work. We waited until the baked potatoes were finished and then the volunteers who were going to be serving food to our 170 guests began to man their stations.

Hungry and joyful guests were served food by volunteers at two different buffet-style tables, before these guests headed to their seats to enjoy their meal.

At the end of the lunch, John said a few words of thanks. Local churches, key volunteers for the potato blitz, the “Get ‘R Done Crew” (a few dedicated individuals who went around to the different supermarkets on the day of the Blitz to pick up hundreds of pounds of spuds), and many others were thanked. Another fun part which also happened at last year’s lunch was the 2nd annual “Soup Idol”. Eight contestants prepared soups which were tasted by a few judges, to see which one appealed most to their taste buds. After much deliberation, the Soup Idol trophy was given to one of our own staff here at House of Friendship: Alissa Attwood, from Kingsdale Community Centre. (Congratulations, Alissa!)

These four men made up the "Get 'R Done" crew, who, on the day of the Supermarket Blitz, collected potatoes. (Left to Right: Kelly Daly, John Lambert (aka "King Spud"), Glenn Stewart and Ed Ruppe). Thank you so much for your help!

It is also customary for an update to be given on how we are doing at reaching our goal of 200,000 lbs of potatoes. Before the lunch, we had the equivalent (in both cash and spuds) of 188,000 lbs. After the lunch, because of peoples’ generous donations upon arrival, we had raised the equivalent of about 203,000 lbs of spuds, allowing us to surpass our goal!

Thank you so much to all of our amazing volunteers (over 35 of you!) who helped with set up, food prep, money counting, serving, clean up, and many other jobs. And to our generous guests around the community. Thank you all for giving of yourself and your resources to help our neighbours and friends in need. We couldn’t have made this Potato Blitz a success and we would definitely not have raised 203,000 lbs of spuds without you!

Sweet Potato, who is one of our two Potato Blitz mascots, comes to greet and thank all of our satisfied and happy guests. Sweet's sidekick, Spuddy, took time to recuperate from his tiresome tours of the supermarkets during our supermarket blitz.