Oct 2, 2012
When Delaney Turner decided to contribute to his community in a way meaningful to him, he remembered a Christmas spent alone.
He went to a church for Christmas dinner and remembers feeling grateful such a service existed.
Today, the social business strategist with IBM Software can be found serving breakfast at the Ottawa Mission every Saturday morning. At his wedding, Turner and his fiancé invited guests to contribute towards an institutional toaster for the mission in lieu of gifts.
“A couple of hundred bagels go through the toaster every day,” Turner says. “For a lot of clients, the mission is the only place where they feel accepted, safe or comfortable. For some, it’s the only time they have any companionship … It’s giving back in a way that gives them the dignity of a meal in a safe environment.”
Food banks and soup kitchens rely on volunteers like Turner to lend helping hands. While volunteers come from all walks of life, each is committed to paying it forward:
UNION GOSPEL MISSION
Before retiring, firefighter Ron Bourassa’s volunteer efforts centred on fire-related causes, such as muscular dystrophy and burn fund charities. He’s been volunteering at Union Gospel Mission for five years, working primarily in meal preparation and he particularly enjoys lending a helping hand at Thanksgiving when dinner is served to more than 3,000 people. “I will continue to volunteer here in hope that my little efforts are helping others take small steps, make positive choices and moving forward in life,” Bourassa says.
SHARE THE WARMTH
As a regular patron of Share the Warmth’s secondhand shop, Betty O’Connor knows firsthand the importance of helping others. After babysitting her grandchildren for many years, she was thrilled when the shop asked her to volunteer. “It’s very hard for a lot of people here,” O’Connor says. “I enjoy meeting people and appreciate giving back. It’s rewarding.”
While raising her family in Winnipeg, Gerri Shiman often turned to the food bank to feed her six children. She later moved to Calgary and, after returning to Winnipeg, lost her job when the company she worked for went out of business. Forced to once again turn to the food bank, she also decided to give back and prepares food hampers. “People are so appreciative,” Shiman says. “I didn’t know anybody when I moved back to Winnipeg and now I feel like I’m part of a big happy family.”
CALGARY FOOD BANK
Heather Rasmuson and Alyne Wettlaufer became friends when they began volunteering here a decade ago. “You can’t complain abut the way things are if you don’t do something to try and make them better,” says Wettlaufer. “Though our contributions may be small, we’re filling a need.” Volunteering is also a social event. “You get so much done when you work hard together,” says Rasmuson.
Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre (PARC)
Robert Tait was an ironworker and later ran his own pest control business. On Valentine’s Day this year, he found himself suddenly homeless and, after not eating for two days, he went to PARC. “I’m grateful for the days I’m able to help,” he says. “You only keep what you have by giving it away.” Preparing and serving food allows him to focus on the day’s events instead of his problems. “I have 12 years’ experience working in kitchens in prison,” Tait says. “At PARC, it’s not a job to help out in the kitchen, it’s an honour.”
TORONTO STREET FOOD
Volunteer Jeannette Lamoureux relies on the food bank herself. “I’ve been down and out and know it’s great to have somewhere to go to where you don’t have to feel embarrassed or guilty because you have nothing,” she says. “I like to give back.”
Taken from Canoe.ca