It’s been said that 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.”
For many, our community is a much better place thanks to the work of volunteers like Bob Guessford, Edythe Sorensen and Andy Berg at Kate’s Kitchen on Rossland Avenue. They are part of a team of workers who prepare meals and food hampers each day for those in need.
Guessford, who works several days per week at the kitchen says he really enjoys his time there.
“Because of my bad back I can’t curl or golf so this has become a social thing for me.” he says. “It is a commitment though. People are counting on us so you can’t just volunteer and not show up. It’s like a job and you have to be committed.”
“We ask 50 cents for lunch and $1.00 for dinner but if they don’t have the money we still feed them.” he says.
“Nobody goes away hungry.”
Edythe Sorensen came to the kitchen through her work at the Salvation Army Thrift Store where she has worked for several years sorting clothing.
“They had a notice up at the store that they needed help in the kitchen so I came down and volunteered.” she says. “I can’t work for a living any more because my body just doesn’t allow it, but I still have the energy so this is what I do.”
“A lot of the people who come in here are just the working poor trying to make ends meet on minimum wage.” says Sorensen. “And they’re very appreciative of what we do.”
Some people who were once beneficiaries of the services at Kate’s Kitchen now show their gratitude by working as volunteers. Andy Berg is one of them.
“I used to get food hampers from here.” he says. “That’s why I work here now.”
Director Mary Ann Leschiutta says Berg is typical of several staffers who have accessed the food bank in the past.
“They’re here because they really want to be,” she says. “They’re very grateful and now feel it’s their turn to give back.”
Besides feeding 25 to 40 people each day, Kate’s also supplies 40 to 50 food hampers each week and depends totally on the goodwill of others to operate.
“Everything is donated,” says Leschiutta. “Personal donations, community groups and local businesses all help us out.
We get a lot of the food from Food Banks Canada and Extra Foods Alternate Processing Systems and our breads and pastries all come from Safeway and Ferraro Foods.” she says.
“And a lot of the money raised through Salvation Army Christmas kettles comes here to help keep the food bank going.”
Without the commitment and compassion and work of volunteers like Bob and Edythe and Andy, our community would be a much poorer place in which to live. They’ve made their votes count.
If there’s an unheralded person in our community that you think deserves recognition for their efforts contact Mike Hockley at firstname.lastname@example.org