Christmas is the season of giving, but volunteers give the gift of time all year round.
Hank started volunteering with Mission Services’ Food Services program in 2019 working in the Good Food Centre. He was one of hundreds of volunteers who supported staff and clients at that time.
Hank was looking for a way to help his community through volunteering and a friend suggested Mission Services.
“I feel very fortunate and I figure this is a really good way to give back, with time.”
In March of 2020, Mission Services had to pause the volunteer program. With a global pandemic on the rise and so much uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 virus, it was the safest option for the volunteers, staff and clients.
Hank understood this decision but felt helpless. He knew staff would be under pressure as more people turned to Mission Services for support. “I think the people who needed the help, needed it ten times more, and I couldn’t do anything.”
But finally, the wait is over. Hank is returning to Food Services, now supporting the team at our Men’s Kitchen, as many other volunteers are also being reintroduced into our programs.
“Though we had a few volunteers working during the [height of the pandemic], the Volunteer Program resumed once again in April,” said Victor, Director of Staff Wellness and Volunteer Resources at Mission Services.
Mission Services has had 75 volunteers return to help in eight different programs so far and this number will keep increasing based on the needs of the programs.
A few ways volunteers give their time is by packing food boxes in the Good Food Centre, helping prepare meals in the three kitchens, or working with youth in the after-school 196 Program.
“[Volunteers] play such a vital role in our program, I really don’t think we could run without them,” shared Adalia, The 196 Program Coordinator.
The 196 Program was able to utilize volunteers remotely during the pandemic, using a Facebook group and video communication to engage with the children stuck at home. But the majority of programs need support on-site.
“With the demand for our services increasing everyday due to the rise in inflation, homelessness, mental health and addictions, having volunteers onboard with us gives us that much needed assistance,” explained Victor.
However, during COVID, Mission Services was able to find different, off-site and safe, ways for people to volunteer their time, by running fundraisers on behalf of MSH. Hosting a food drive, hygiene drive or financial drive, or running an event in support of Mission Services, all require time and energy, and are equally beneficial.
Whether someone is sorting food at the GFC or collecting non-perishable food items at their business, church or community group, they’re all making a difference to those accessing services at MSH.
“I feel very blessed, but who knows, I can see myself on the other end one day. Volunteering gives me a sense of purpose and I think more people should try it,” said Hank.
If you’re interested in learning more about volunteering opportunities at MSH you can visit mission-services.com/volunteering or contact Victor at 905 528-5100-ext.1104 or email@example.com.
Anyone wishing to volunteer with Mission Services must be fully vaccinated and willing to wear a required face mask to protect themselves and lower the risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus to others.